Cooking like it’s cold outside

October 23, 2011

A little dried out. But really, really good.

It’s a gorgeous fall day, with temps in the 70s. I should be grilling. But I had had short ribs in the freezer for two weeks, and I wanted short ribs, and it’s short ribs I have.

With something new. Baked Gorgonzola polenta. Who knew you could bake polenta? And it really does pretty well, a stray lump here and there, but all in all, not a bad deal atall.

You use more liquid than conventional polenta, which I guess makes sense, as you are going to bake it for about an hour. It called for a cup of half and half and a cup and a half of either water or chicken broth. I have a tendency to oversalt grits, so I opted for the water, as I had no sodium-free chicken broth handy. Plus, I’m not a big fan of broth-based polenta, in most instances, and certainly not with Gorgonzola.

Anyway, you take your liquids, add salt and pepper if you have a notion (I didn’t, having had black pepper cheese biscuits for breakfast), and whisk the grits in to the liquid in a greased 7- or 8-inch round baking dish. The reason for such specificity in dishes will come. Anyway, you whisk that in, and you nuke it for three minutes on high. You stir it again with the whisk, and you slide it in the oven at 325 with your short ribs about an hour before they’re done.

You bake it 45 minutes, slide the rack out, add two tablespoons of butter and a half-cup of crumbled Gorgonzola, and stir that in. And there is the reason for your dish. One, it’d be hard as hell to stir in a square or loaf pan. Two, a 7- or 8-inch round baker is usually at least 3, if not 4 or more, inches deep. And when you are stirring your grits (with a spoon, now) and adding in your butter and cheese and trying to get them evenly incorporated, you are, if you’re me, GOING to slop some over the side and onto the oven door. But not nearly as much as you would have if you’d been using a regular baking dish with 2-inch sides.

Then you stick it back in the oven for another 5 to 10 minutes. And that’s it. And you snatch it and your short ribs out of the oven, put one over t’other, and, well, there ya are.

The polenta is good. It tastes like Gorgonzola polenta. I managed not to get it too awfully salty. And I used local grist mill coarse cornmeal. Can’t complain.

The short ribs are the recipe that came with the polenta, in a column by a personal chef in Memphis, Carol Borchardt, who writes “Dinner For Two” in The Commercial Appeal. I found her stuff a month ago, and have been itching to try some of her recipes.

I didn’t do a very good job of following directions on this one, which braises the short ribs in a wine-based sauce. First, I forgot the can of diced tomatos. Second, I did not put a piece of wet parchment over the top of the Dutch oven before putting on the lid, and consequently a full four cups of liquid — which covered those damn short ribs completely four and a half hours earlier — had cooked away to almost nothing, and my Dutch oven is going to be a bee-yotch to clean.

But they taste good. Taste is more like Julia’s bouef bourguignon, since there were no tomatos. With Italian seasoning (thyme-heavy, with some oregano and basil) and a bay leaf.

Recipe for both is here. As noted, I forgot the tomatos. I used a wine-in-the-box Shiraz, because it was what I had handy.  Cant’ complain. You and y’mama ‘n ’em browse some of her others. They look good.

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