Comfort Food, Foodie Style

Comforty Delicious

Earlier this year, the Everyman and I had a mostly forgettable dinner at Noce during Winterlicious.  At the time I thought it was quite a shame, because I’d heard nothing but good things about the restaurant prior to our visit.

The one bright spot in our meal was a creamy polenta dish with a sausage ragu that the Everyman literally inhaled.  The other night while trying to come up with something appealing to make for dinner, that particular dish came to mind.  It had a richness of flavour to it that was wholly comforting in its simplicity, like being wrapped in a warm, fluffy blanket on a cold winter day.

Comfort foods are usually creamy, somewhat fatty, protein-laden dishes, and while I enjoy all of those elements, I have been trying to make a shift toward slightly healthier, less meat-centric dishes lately.  With that caveat, I intended to create a dish that had all the impact of its comfort food counterpart, but lighter and exhibiting a refined elegance.  I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but I was confident that I could pull it off.

First I started a pot of chicken broth and milk to boil.

Polenta

Once bubbling, I added the cornmeal, reduced the heat to medium and set in for a good, long stir.

Polpettini

In the meantime, I retrieved the remnants of a pound of ground beef that had been used to make hamburgers for dinner the previous evening, and mixed in some leftover roasted garlic pesto.  The meat was then shaped into a dozen polpettini (tiny meatballs).

Browning

Browned off in a skillet with a drizzle of olive oil, they were set to rest while I continued the polenta twirl.  After what seemed like an inordinate amount of stirring, the coarsely ground meal suddenly soaked up all of the liquid and magically transformed into a velvety smooth paste.  A quick swirl of ricotta, salt and pepper completed the dish.  Surprisingly, the whole thing came together in less than half an hour, much quicker than I had expected.  And the result?  A perfectly homey, satisfying meal, that was relatively healthy and easy to make.  Score!

Foodie’s Polenta And Polpettini

8 oz ground beef

1 tbsp pesto

0.5 tbsp olive oil

1 c. chicken broth

1 c. milk

0.5 c. cornmeal

2 tbsp ricotta cheese

In a medium saucepan bring the broth and milk to a boil.  Once rolling, add the cornmeal, reduce heat to a simmer and stir constantly.  Mix ground beef with pesto and form into 12 loosely formed meatballs.  Heat olive oil over medium high heat in a skillet and fry the polpettini in batches until browned.  Continue stirring cornmeal until all liquid is absorbed, and polenta is creamy.  Remove from heat, add ricotta cheese and season with salt and pepper.  Serve immediately.

Makes 2-4 servings.

Until next time…

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3 Responses to “Comfort Food, Foodie Style”

  1. scott says:

    Looks great. If you really want to gild the lilly, next time add some mascarpone.

  2. mochapj says:

    Mmm. I love mascarpone cheese (have a bit of a weakness for tiramisu) but hardly ever keep it in the house.

    I’m on my way to an Italian deli this morning to pick up some bufala and doppia 0, so perhaps I’ll pick up some mascarpone as well.

    I never really liked polenta before, but I’ve recently become a convert. Nom!

  3. scott says:

    00 and bufala sounds like pizza to me. Make mine margherita!

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