Friday, November 25, 2011

Friday Foodday - More Winter Cooking

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  I hope you all had wonderful days full of turkey.  Our Thanksgiving feast looked like this:
Yummmm, spiny lobster!  We had a total feast of scallops, fresh fish, shrimp and lobster, accompanied with tortillas, ceviche and margaritas.  It was by far and away the easiest Thanksgiving I've ever had, and way more delicious than any turkey I have ever cooked.  For sure.  Perhaps not the most traditional Thanksgiving ever, but much more culturally appropriate for our locale.

In lieu of Thanksgiving, I am looking forward to having a couple of festive winter dinner parties.  I haven't actually made this recipe yet, which I realize means that I probably shouldn't post it.  But I just finished reading Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes for the nine hundreth time and I'm so inspired by her Tuscan/Italian cooking, I can't wait to try this:

Roast Chickens Stuffed with Polenta
(Modified from Under the Tuscan Sun.)
(image borrowed from Wagshal's, I hope mine looks this nice.)

2 c. polenta
1 c. butter
2 eggs
2 c. fresh croutons
2 chopped onions
3 stalks celery
2 chickens

Soak the polenta in 2 c. cold water for 10 minutes, then add it to 2 c. of boiling water in a large pot.  Bring to a boil, then lower heat and cook stirring constantly for 10 minutes.  Stir in 2 sticks of butter (1c.)  Remove from heat and beat in the eggs.  Add croutons, onions, celery and season generously with salt, pepper, sage, thyme and marjoram.  Stuff the 2 chickens loosely, tie their legs, and scatter springs of thyme over the birds.  Roast on oiled racks in a large roasting pan.  25 minutes a pound at 350 deg. is about right, but start testing earlier.

Doesn't that sound amazing?  One recipe that I have tried and that I look forward to serving again is this one:
Beef Ragout with Polenta
This tastes a lot like Julia's Boeuf Bourguignon that I posted about here, but it's a bit easier and much quicker.)

1 small onion, chopped
1 rub celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
16 oz. lean beef top round steak
1 c. dry red wine
1 1/2 Tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped
14 1/2 oz. canned diced tomatoes
1 Tbsp. canned tomato paste
2 oz. dried mission figs
1 lb. polenta log

Heat roughly 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add onion, celery, carrot and garlic, and cook while stirring until the onion is softened.  Add the beef and cook until browned.  Add red wine and cook over high heat, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.  Cook until the liquid is reduced by half, four or five minutes.  Add basil, thyme and tomatoes and bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce the heat and simmer about 35 minutes.

Stir in tomato paste, figs, salt and pepper to taste.  Cook uncovered until mixture thickens, about 10 more minutes. 

While the final 10 minutes tick down on the beef, preheat the broiler.  Cut the polenta into 12 slices.  Spray a broiler pan with non-stick spray and broil the polenta a couple of minutes on each side, until lightly browned all over.

Dish up the polenta and cover it with beef ragout.  Delish!  Happy winter eating, y'all!

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