Polenta night

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Polenta night

Postby Mike Filigenzi » Sun Apr 23, 2006 3:40 am

We had our friends, Teresa and Joe, over for supper tonight. Having them over is always a bit challenging. Teresa is a fairly strict vegetarian - she's fine with dairy and eggs, but no meat. Joe is the kind of guy who just loves good food in any form. Then there's my wife, the good mid-western girl, who has a hard time accepting meals that don't involve pork or beef in some form.

For tonight's meal, we resolved these issues by doing polenta with a variety of toppings. I made the polenta early this afternoon poured it into a baking dish to firm up and cool. Then the following items were cooked up:

- Crimini mushrooms sauteed with onion, thyme, and a little dry marsala
- Rainbow chard braised with onion and garlic, with canned scarlet runner beans added
- Italian sausage cooked with onions
- Gorgonzola cream sauce with a little garlic and rosemary

Just before serving, I cut the polenta into squares, coated it with semolina (as per a Deborah Madison recipe) and fried it in olive oil. Everyone picked whatever they wanted out of the toppings and dumped it on their polenta. Teresa and Joe brought a salad and my wife made a really odd and very tasty pudding cake for dessert.

Overall, the meal was quite a success and made for an easy way to resolve the different dietary issues.

Mike

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A polenta bar!

Postby Kim Adams » Sun Apr 23, 2006 8:20 am

That sounds like a great way to go.
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Re: Polenta night

Postby Robin Garr » Sun Apr 23, 2006 10:38 am

Mike Filigenzi (Sacto) wrote:We had our friends, Teresa and Joe, over for supper tonight.Overall, the meal was quite a success and made for an easy way to resolve the different dietary issues.


Brilliant, Mike, and a great concept for a really interesting article ... it's surprising how little is written about coming up with a great meal for a dinner where some visitors are vegetarian and others aren't. (I've solved this on occasion by making two lasagnas, one with meat and one without, but I love this Italian smorgasbord idea. It occurs to me that pasta with a variety of sauces would work, too, but serving the pasta just right would be more of a timing challenge and make for a less relaxed meal.
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Re: Polenta night

Postby Stuart Yaniger » Tue Apr 25, 2006 3:51 pm

You bastard, you coulda waited til I got back to town! :wink:

We've done the same thing before with pizza, a build-your-own event. We premade a bunch of dough, rolled it out, set out bowls of toppings, and let everyone diy.
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But ...

Postby Bill Spencer » Tue Apr 25, 2006 6:01 pm

%^)

... how did you resolve the "wine dilemma" ... did you open both a red and a white ? Or just one or the other ? And if just one, which one and was it the RIGHT one ?

Clink !

%^)
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Re: Polenta night

Postby Jenise » Tue Apr 25, 2006 6:15 pm

What an innovative solution to a fairly common entertaining problem. Tell me more about the polenta prep, though. I've pan-fried polenta many a time (I grew up on a southern Grandma's "fried mush" breakfasts), but never dipped them in anything. Dipping them in something else never occurred to me--I guess this guarantees a crispy outer coating?
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: But ...

Postby Mike Filigenzi » Tue Apr 25, 2006 7:25 pm

Bill Spencer wrote:%^)

... how did you resolve the "wine dilemma" ... did you open both a red and a white ? Or just one or the other ? And if just one, which one and was it the RIGHT one ?

Clink !

%^)


Well, the wine dilemma was solved by Joe, who brought a bottle of a Bodeaux over that he'd been wanting to try out. I can't remember the name on it, but it was a 2003 and it showed the vintage. I wasn't particularly taken with it in terms of pairing with any of the polenta toppings.

Mike

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Re: Polenta night

Postby Mike Filigenzi » Tue Apr 25, 2006 7:27 pm

Jenise wrote:What an innovative solution to a fairly common entertaining problem. Tell me more about the polenta prep, though. I've pan-fried polenta many a time (I grew up on a southern Grandma's "fried mush" breakfasts), but never dipped them in anything. Dipping them in something else never occurred to me--I guess this guarantees a crispy outer coating?


This was my first shot at frying polenta, so I don't have a lot to compare it with. I think the semolina did add a nice golden color and a little extra crunch to the outsides, though. The only downside was that the bits of semolina left in the skillet started to burn a bit after a while, so halfway through I had to dump the oil and wipe the skillet out before putting in more oil and continuing. The results were good, though.

Mike

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Re: Polenta night

Postby Mike Filigenzi » Tue Apr 25, 2006 7:35 pm

Stuart Yaniger wrote:You bastard, you coulda waited til I got back to town! :wink:

We've done the same thing before with pizza, a build-your-own event. We premade a bunch of dough, rolled it out, set out bowls of toppings, and let everyone diy.


What, so you could Frank us again? :D

(I was instructed to post that, BTW. I bet you can guess who came up with that idea....)

So you back for any length of time?


Mike

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Re: Polenta night

Postby Jenise » Tue Apr 25, 2006 8:06 pm

Polenta fries up well on it's own, so I never would have thought to coat it. However, when I make it for frying, I make it leaner in liquid content and use some 1/3 milk in the liquid to ensure a crusty, golden color. Oh, and frying in teflon's a must. If one were using leftover polenta that was prepared for porridge style service, then I can see where the semolina coating would be a huge help.
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Re: Polenta night

Postby Mike Filigenzi » Tue Apr 25, 2006 8:31 pm

Interesting. Why the teflon? I fried mine in a pan with a stainless interior and it worked out pretty well. Maybe the semolina helped with that pan?


Mike

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Re: Polenta night

Postby Jenise » Tue Apr 25, 2006 11:25 pm

I'm sure it did, Mike. Without the semolina, it would have been Stick City. Which probably explains the semolina as much as anything, if the recipe didn't suggest/require non-stick.
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Re: Polenta night

Postby Stuart Yaniger » Wed Apr 26, 2006 3:03 am

Mike, I'm still in Europe. I'll be back for a few days, then back here again. By the end of May, I'll be in CA for more than a 5 day stretch.
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Re: Polenta night

Postby Bill Spohn » Wed Apr 26, 2006 11:40 am

Robin Garr wrote:it's surprising how little is written about coming up with a great meal for a dinner where some visitors are vegetarian


Inviting a vegetarian to dinner is like inviting a teetotaller to a wine tasting......
Last edited by Bill Spohn on Wed Apr 26, 2006 12:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Polenta night

Postby Jenise » Wed Apr 26, 2006 11:49 am

Bill Spohn wrote:Inviting a vegetarian to dinner is like inviting a teetotaller to a wine tasting......


Somone needs to beet some sense into you.
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Re: Polenta night

Postby Bill Spohn » Wed Apr 26, 2006 12:04 pm

Jenise wrote:Somone needs to beet some sense into you.


Not willing to meat me half way, huh? :roll:
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Re: Polenta night

Postby Jenise » Wed Apr 26, 2006 12:14 pm

Bill Spohn wrote:Not willing to meat me half way, huh? :roll:


I've bean tempted in the past, but not today.
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Re: Polenta night

Postby Bill Spohn » Wed Apr 26, 2006 12:50 pm

Jenise wrote:I've bean tempted in the past, but not today.



Any time you want to dance the lamb-bada, baby.....Image
ImageImage
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Re: Polenta night

Postby Jenise » Wed Apr 26, 2006 1:24 pm

Lamb-bada? Ooh! Lettuce start now.
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Re: Polenta night

Postby Bill Spohn » Wed Apr 26, 2006 1:26 pm

Jenise wrote:Lamb-bada? Ooh! Lettuce start now.


Anything ewe want.....Image
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Re: Polenta night

Postby Christina Georgina » Wed Apr 26, 2006 2:50 pm

I fry only when I want to "enhance" the flavor - usually with lots of chopped garlic and hot pepper flakes mashed into the polenta. Otherwise broiling the serving sized pieces in an oil sprayed non-stick baking sheet accomplishes the same purpose - to get it hot, with some nice crust and reduces time to serve and uses less oil. Many toppings can be added and put under the broiler as well.
A terrific party for those who don't know polenta.
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