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Polenta night

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Mike Filigenzi

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Polenta night

by Mike Filigenzi » Sun Apr 23, 2006 3:40 am

We had our friends, Teresa and Joe, over for supper tonight. Having them over is always a bit challenging. Teresa is a fairly strict vegetarian - she's fine with dairy and eggs, but no meat. Joe is the kind of guy who just loves good food in any form. Then there's my wife, the good mid-western girl, who has a hard time accepting meals that don't involve pork or beef in some form.

For tonight's meal, we resolved these issues by doing polenta with a variety of toppings. I made the polenta early this afternoon poured it into a baking dish to firm up and cool. Then the following items were cooked up:

- Crimini mushrooms sauteed with onion, thyme, and a little dry marsala
- Rainbow chard braised with onion and garlic, with canned scarlet runner beans added
- Italian sausage cooked with onions
- Gorgonzola cream sauce with a little garlic and rosemary

Just before serving, I cut the polenta into squares, coated it with semolina (as per a Deborah Madison recipe) and fried it in olive oil. Everyone picked whatever they wanted out of the toppings and dumped it on their polenta. Teresa and Joe brought a salad and my wife made a really odd and very tasty pudding cake for dessert.

Overall, the meal was quite a success and made for an easy way to resolve the different dietary issues.

Mike
"People who love to eat are always the best people"

- Julia Child
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Kim Adams

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A polenta bar!

by Kim Adams » Sun Apr 23, 2006 8:20 am

That sounds like a great way to go.
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Robin Garr

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Re: Polenta night

by Robin Garr » Sun Apr 23, 2006 10:38 am

Mike Filigenzi (Sacto) wrote:We had our friends, Teresa and Joe, over for supper tonight.Overall, the meal was quite a success and made for an easy way to resolve the different dietary issues.


Brilliant, Mike, and a great concept for a really interesting article ... it's surprising how little is written about coming up with a great meal for a dinner where some visitors are vegetarian and others aren't. (I've solved this on occasion by making two lasagnas, one with meat and one without, but I love this Italian smorgasbord idea. It occurs to me that pasta with a variety of sauces would work, too, but serving the pasta just right would be more of a timing challenge and make for a less relaxed meal.
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Stuart Yaniger

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Re: Polenta night

by Stuart Yaniger » Tue Apr 25, 2006 3:51 pm

You bastard, you coulda waited til I got back to town! :wink:

We've done the same thing before with pizza, a build-your-own event. We premade a bunch of dough, rolled it out, set out bowls of toppings, and let everyone diy.
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Bill Spencer

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But ...

by Bill Spencer » Tue Apr 25, 2006 6:01 pm

%^)

... how did you resolve the "wine dilemma" ... did you open both a red and a white ? Or just one or the other ? And if just one, which one and was it the RIGHT one ?

Clink !

%^)
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Jenise

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Re: Polenta night

by Jenise » Tue Apr 25, 2006 6:15 pm

What an innovative solution to a fairly common entertaining problem. Tell me more about the polenta prep, though. I've pan-fried polenta many a time (I grew up on a southern Grandma's "fried mush" breakfasts), but never dipped them in anything. Dipping them in something else never occurred to me--I guess this guarantees a crispy outer coating?
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Mike Filigenzi

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Re: But ...

by Mike Filigenzi » Tue Apr 25, 2006 7:25 pm

Bill Spencer wrote:%^)

... how did you resolve the "wine dilemma" ... did you open both a red and a white ? Or just one or the other ? And if just one, which one and was it the RIGHT one ?

Clink !

%^)


Well, the wine dilemma was solved by Joe, who brought a bottle of a Bodeaux over that he'd been wanting to try out. I can't remember the name on it, but it was a 2003 and it showed the vintage. I wasn't particularly taken with it in terms of pairing with any of the polenta toppings.

Mike
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- Julia Child
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Mike Filigenzi

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Re: Polenta night

by Mike Filigenzi » Tue Apr 25, 2006 7:27 pm

Jenise wrote:What an innovative solution to a fairly common entertaining problem. Tell me more about the polenta prep, though. I've pan-fried polenta many a time (I grew up on a southern Grandma's "fried mush" breakfasts), but never dipped them in anything. Dipping them in something else never occurred to me--I guess this guarantees a crispy outer coating?


This was my first shot at frying polenta, so I don't have a lot to compare it with. I think the semolina did add a nice golden color and a little extra crunch to the outsides, though. The only downside was that the bits of semolina left in the skillet started to burn a bit after a while, so halfway through I had to dump the oil and wipe the skillet out before putting in more oil and continuing. The results were good, though.

Mike
"People who love to eat are always the best people"

- Julia Child
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Mike Filigenzi

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Re: Polenta night

by Mike Filigenzi » Tue Apr 25, 2006 7:35 pm

Stuart Yaniger wrote:You bastard, you coulda waited til I got back to town! :wink:

We've done the same thing before with pizza, a build-your-own event. We premade a bunch of dough, rolled it out, set out bowls of toppings, and let everyone diy.


What, so you could Frank us again? :D

(I was instructed to post that, BTW. I bet you can guess who came up with that idea....)

So you back for any length of time?


Mike
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- Julia Child
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Jenise

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Re: Polenta night

by Jenise » Tue Apr 25, 2006 8:06 pm

Polenta fries up well on it's own, so I never would have thought to coat it. However, when I make it for frying, I make it leaner in liquid content and use some 1/3 milk in the liquid to ensure a crusty, golden color. Oh, and frying in teflon's a must. If one were using leftover polenta that was prepared for porridge style service, then I can see where the semolina coating would be a huge help.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Mike Filigenzi

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Re: Polenta night

by Mike Filigenzi » Tue Apr 25, 2006 8:31 pm

Interesting. Why the teflon? I fried mine in a pan with a stainless interior and it worked out pretty well. Maybe the semolina helped with that pan?


Mike
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Jenise

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Re: Polenta night

by Jenise » Tue Apr 25, 2006 11:25 pm

I'm sure it did, Mike. Without the semolina, it would have been Stick City. Which probably explains the semolina as much as anything, if the recipe didn't suggest/require non-stick.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Stuart Yaniger

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Re: Polenta night

by Stuart Yaniger » Wed Apr 26, 2006 3:03 am

Mike, I'm still in Europe. I'll be back for a few days, then back here again. By the end of May, I'll be in CA for more than a 5 day stretch.
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Bill Spohn

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Re: Polenta night

by Bill Spohn » Wed Apr 26, 2006 11:40 am

Robin Garr wrote:it's surprising how little is written about coming up with a great meal for a dinner where some visitors are vegetarian


Inviting a vegetarian to dinner is like inviting a teetotaller to a wine tasting......
Last edited by Bill Spohn on Wed Apr 26, 2006 12:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Jenise

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Re: Polenta night

by Jenise » Wed Apr 26, 2006 11:49 am

Bill Spohn wrote:Inviting a vegetarian to dinner is like inviting a teetotaller to a wine tasting......


Somone needs to beet some sense into you.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Bill Spohn

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Re: Polenta night

by Bill Spohn » Wed Apr 26, 2006 12:04 pm

Jenise wrote:Somone needs to beet some sense into you.


Not willing to meat me half way, huh? :roll:
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Re: Polenta night

by Jenise » Wed Apr 26, 2006 12:14 pm

Bill Spohn wrote:Not willing to meat me half way, huh? :roll:


I've bean tempted in the past, but not today.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Bill Spohn

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Re: Polenta night

by Bill Spohn » Wed Apr 26, 2006 12:50 pm

Jenise wrote:I've bean tempted in the past, but not today.



Any time you want to dance the lamb-bada, baby.....Image
ImageImage
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Re: Polenta night

by Jenise » Wed Apr 26, 2006 1:24 pm

Lamb-bada? Ooh! Lettuce start now.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: Polenta night

by Bill Spohn » Wed Apr 26, 2006 1:26 pm

Jenise wrote:Lamb-bada? Ooh! Lettuce start now.


Anything ewe want.....Image
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Re: Polenta night

by Christina Georgina » Wed Apr 26, 2006 2:50 pm

I fry only when I want to "enhance" the flavor - usually with lots of chopped garlic and hot pepper flakes mashed into the polenta. Otherwise broiling the serving sized pieces in an oil sprayed non-stick baking sheet accomplishes the same purpose - to get it hot, with some nice crust and reduces time to serve and uses less oil. Many toppings can be added and put under the broiler as well.
A terrific party for those who don't know polenta.
Mamma Mia !

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