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Polenta Ragu

February 22, 2010

Last week, I had dinner at Antico Posto with my friends Dan & Jenny. Mmmmm . . . I know it’s a corporate-run restaurant, but I can’t help but love it like it’s a small Italian family business. When the food is good, it’s good. The next day, I couldn’t get the meal off my mind, particularly the polenta. Jenny couldn’t get it off her mind either as she sent polenta & complimentary recipes. And I know Dan was on the bandwagon too, as he kept urging someone to make a batch and bring it to him. (We confirmed with management that Antico Posto uses cream, butter and marscapone cheese in their polenta. Probably why it’s so good.)

The Boy also loves the stuff and remembers eating it with sour cream and blue cheese when he was younger. It’s not a Russian dish but he’s not quite sure how it made a frequent showing at the dinner table. “I think Russians love Italian food,” he offered as an explanation. Don’t we all?

So guess what our dinner was Sunday night. (Not rice.)

The polenta was easy to make, but deciding what to make with it was more challenging. After flipping through a couple of Giada’s cookbooks, I went with a recipe that was inspired by her Lamb Ragu. Not a bad choice.

The Boy’s Reaction: “This is tomato & polenta heaven!” (He gets a little dramatic sometimes.)

Polenta Ragu

6 cups water
1.5 cups polenta corn meal
1 t. salt

1 lb ground turkey (but really, you can use whatever ground meat you feel like using)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 T. salt
1 t. black pepper
1 cup dry red wine
1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
2 bay leaves

In one pot, boil the water for the polenta. Add salt and polenta. Stir. Personally, I don’t go for more than 20 minutes on this recipe but the hardcore people will go 2-3 hours. Wow.

While the polenta is doing its thing, you can start the ragu by add olive oil in a large pot. Once the oil gets hot, add the onion and garlic. Stir until the onion is soft. At this point, add salt and pepper. Stir for another 2-3 minutes (the onion should be translucent by now). Add ground turkey and saute the meat. Once the turkey is completely cooked, add wine and stir together for about 5 minutes (or until wine comes to a boil for about 2-3 minutes). Stir in crushed tomatoes and bay leaves. Bring everything to a boil. Then, turn the heat to low and let it simmer for about an hour. (You could technically let it simmer for 10-20 minutes but it’s worth the wait if you leave it going for an hour.)

If you’re a Italianophile, I think you’ll dig this one!

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