Main Dishes

Nuit d’Italien a la maison le Chat

Boy, that title took some thinking. It’s been 10 years since I took any French classes!

I couldn’t decide what to make for dinner tonight. As usual, I began thinking about it before I had my cup of tea in me (I prefer to get the food shopping out of the way early in the day). I thought about polenta, a food I have never cooked before. I used the Food Network search engine to come up with something that sounded appealing that I could easily tweak. And this is what I came up with.

And I got to use my newest toy: making bread crumbs, chopping up the pine nuts, and grating the Parmesan. Have I said that I love The Man?

Polenta and Meatballs
a la Tyler Florence (or sort of)

For the meatballs:

1 cup GF bread crumbs
1 1/2 pounds ground sirloin
1 1/2 pounds ground pork
4 eggs
1/2 bunch fresh parsley
1/2 bunch fresh basil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup olive oil + more for drizzling
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan
1/2 cup ground pine nuts
Sea salt and fresh-ground black pepper
1/2 pound baby bella mushrooms
2 pints small tomatoes
1 ball fresh mozzarella

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the beef and pork together. Roughly chop half of the basil and parsley; add to the meat. Add the garlic, bread crumbs, eggs, pine nuts, and Parmesan. Mix everything together thoroughly with your hands. Shape into meatballs.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil until it begins to smoke. Add the meatballs and fry until browned on both sides. Remove and place in a baking dish.

Add oil (if necessary) to the pan and then add the mushrooms; saute until browned. Cut the tomatoes in half; squeeze each half into a separate bowl and then throw the hulls in too. Drizzle with olive oil, add salt and a few cranks of black pepper, and mix. Add to the mushrooms. Let everything simmer together for about 10 minutes. Pour the tomatoes and mushrooms over the meatballs; shred the remaining basil and parley over the top. Chop up the mozzarella and place on top of everything; sprinkle with more Parmesan.

Bake for 30 minutes.

For the polenta:

6 cups chicken stock
2 cups polenta
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
3 tbsp butter
Sea salt

In a large saucepan, bring the chicken stock to a boil. Whisk in the polenta and lower the heat. Continue to stir occasionally until thickened. When it gets thick, stir in the cream, Parmesan, and salt. Turn off the heat and keep warm until the meatballs are ready.

Yum, yum.

And thanks to Sutter Home, I was even able to have a glass of merlot with dinner. They make a wine called “Fre,” which basically has no alcohol. A blessing for someone like me, whose stomach BURNS LIKE HELL whenever I drink any sort of alcohol. I found this at our local grocery store the other day and got very excited. I haven’t had a drink in 7 years because of that nasty-ass burning.

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