Red Sauce Recipe - Pan-Seared Polenta & Roasted Asparagus
Before working on this recipe I couldn't describe polenta without using the words "yellow" and "mush". Now all I want to know is "when can I have polenta again?"
Please please please: do not buy instant polenta! What little time you'll save will be dearly repaid with a plate of mushy sadness. Find the section of Zabar's (after you find the Red Sauce) where they keep Bob's Red Mill, find polenta (aka corn grits) and follow the instructions. You will be rewarded with a bounty of creamy, nutty, flavorful staple-food goodness.
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Pan-Seared Polenta & Roasted Asparagus
2 cups polenta grains
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
6 cups water
2 tsp sea salt
1 lb asparagus
Freshly grated pecorino romano
Extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 18.5oz jar (we used Extra Virgin, but Porcini could add a luxurious wild mushroom flavor)
1) To present this dish the way we did it below, you should make the polenta well ahead of time.
In a large pan over high heat, bring the water and sea salt to a boil. Slowly add in the polenta, while stirring constantly. You want to be able to see the individual grains as they fall into the water, which will prevent them from sticking together. Reduce the heat to very low and keep covered, stirring frequently for about 25 minutes. The polenta can burn easily so stir often. You want the polenta to form a very dense mass that does not immediately return to the sides of the bowl when you stir it. This part takes so patience, but it's worth it.
Add the butter. You did it!
Lightly oil a baking dish and pour in the polenta. At this point you can cover and refrigerate, or let it cool long enough for it to become firm enough to slice into pieces. 2) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Lightly oil a baking sheet, and lay out the asparagus. Drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt, pepper, and pecorino romano cheese. You can squeeze some lemon juice onto the asparagus as well, but this is optional. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the cheese starts to turn golden.
3) Try not to eat all the pecorino while you're waiting.
4) Warm your Red Sauce in a heavy sauce pan. While you're at it, throw in some butter.
5) When the polenta is cool, slice into rectangles (or dinosaurs) and square off all of the faces with a long chef's knife. Heat up a skillet over medium-high heat, drizzle with olive oil and about 1 Tbsp butter. When the pan is very hot, lay the polenta slices in the pan and sear until golden, brown, and delicious.
5) Time for plating. This might be a little retro, so I challenge you to do better than my presentation, which hasn't been seen since Dorsia closed in 1986.
Now excuse me, I have to go return some videotapes.
Your turn: try the recipe and post the result to @AtlanticAveCo's Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram!
See you next weekend with another recipe. - The Atlantic Ave. Company