The delicious mingling of ethnicities

When we ordered our quarter of a grassfed cow, about half of it was ground beef.  It’s really good ground beef, but it’s been stretching my cooking repertoire as I try to figure out new ways to incorporate this form of meat into our meals.  So last night, I tried something new…and I think it’ll be something I do again.  I randomly wanted to make something with polenta (which, before last night, I had actually never made before), and got the basic idea from a polenta sausage casserole in one of my cookbooks.  I substituted a meat sauce for the sausage and Moroccan sounded good so that’s how I spiced it.  Topped with mozzarella cheese, it kind of resembled a lasagna.  So, this dish is kind of a blending of  Italian and Moroccan…two amazing cuisines in my opinion and it definitely worked!

Moroccan Beef and Polenta

Place three cups of milk, a good-sized chunk of butter, some salt and sugar in medium-sized saucepan.  On medium-low heat, bring to just below a simmer and add one cup of polenta meal in a steady stream, whisking continuously.  Lower heat and stir with a wooden spoon until it has thickened considerably (the polenta should leave the sides of the pan as you stir it).  Remove from heat and stir in some grated Asiago cheese.  Let cool slightly and then pour into a buttered 9×13 and set aside.  (Or, if you end up getting distracted and forgetting about it until it has cooled a lot and is a lumpy mass, it does end up smoothing out very well with a buttered spatula!)   Roughly chop several small onions and a head of garlic and place in a large cast iron skillet with your ground beef (I used two pounds and it ended up making enough sauce to freeze a little for later).  Cook on medium-high heat until beef is mostly browned.  Season generously with salt, pepper, sugar, cumin, cinnamon, ginger and curry powder.  Add a slightly-drained 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes and a 6 oz. can of tomato paste.   Stir until mixed together thoroughly and remove from heat.  Top polenta with sauce (depending on how meaty you want it, you can set aside some to use for later).  Top sauce with lots of grated mozzarella.  Bake at 375 until browned and bubbly.  Let stand for at least ten minutes before serving.

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