Meal: Lunch or Dinner
Style: Vegetarian Main Entrée
Polenta is as versatile as it is comforting. It can be spooned out like thick porridge and topped with a rich cheese like Gorgonzola or fontina, or just dotted with butter and sprinkled with parmesan or Gruyere (or both). Or the cheese can be stirred in while hot. In this recipe, we are topping the grilled polenta with a hearty chili bean ragout that is high in protein and compliments the corn based starch, giving this typically Italian staple an American twist. To make this dish vegan, simply omit the butter.
Yield: 16-18 servings
Polenta 4 cups
Water 2 gallons
Butter, unsalted 4 tb
Black beans, dried (soaked overnight) 4 cups
Garlic, cloves peeled and smashed 4 ea
Salt 2 tsp
Sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 cubes 3 ea
Onion, finely chopped 3 ea
Garlic, minced 1/4 cup
Ground cumin 3 TB
Dried oregano 3 tsp
Cayenne pepper 1.5 tsp
Smoked paprika 3 tsp
Salt 1.5 tsp
Tomato puree 2 qrts
Tomato paste 6 Tb dissolved in 1/2 cup H20
Chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, minced 5 ea
Place beans in stock pot and cover with water. Add the garlic and bring to a boil. Cook at a hard boil for 5 minutes. Skim off any scum that rises to the top. Lower heat to simmer and cook, covered, for at least an hour, until the beans are tender to the bite. Season with salt and remove the garlic cloves.
Blanch sweet potatoes in boiling water and shock it in ice water. Drain and set aside. Sautee onion until translucent then add the garlic followed by all of the dried spices. Stir to combine, the mix will be pasty. Add the sweet potato, stirring to coat. Cook for about 5 minutes, allowing the spices to meld and blend. Add the tomato puree and increase the heat to medium high. Stir in the tomato paste mixture and the chipotle chiles, lower the heat and cook until well blended, stirring regularly to keep from sticking and burning. Add the beans and simmer until you are satisfied with the overall consistency of the chili, about 30 minutes. If the mixture seems to thick, feel free to stir in more tomato puree or water.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. Combine the polenta, water, salt and butter in a bowl and pour onto a greased baking sheet. Bake for about an hour or until firm. Remove from the oven and let cool before slicing it into wedges. Heat the flat top grill to medium high and brush with oil. Grill the polenta on both sides until a crisp golden crust forms on the surface. Shingle the grilled polenta into a 2-inch hotel pan (single layer). Spoon the chili bean ragout on top of the grilled polenta and garnish with chopped fresh cilantro, squeeze of lime, grated cotija cheese or Monterey jack, chopped scallions and sour cream. Serve hot.