Whisking It



April 2013

Polenta with Beef Ragu

Written by , Posted in Mains

Can I just say… OMG. What a winner. I always forget how much I love polenta until I make it again, and the beef ragu was the perfect accompaniment.  This is the stuff of  royalty I tell you. And its gluten free AND its not difficult to make.

To the unpaletted South Africans it might seem a tad like glorified pap and wors, which in all fairness I guess it is. But, who cares, I’m the glorified pap & wors’s number 1 fan.

For the Polenta:

1 cup polenta grain (or plain maize meal – I find the polenta to be a bit smoother after cooking)
2 cups of water
2 cups of milk
lots of salt
4 tbsp butter
1 cup grated parmesan

For the Beef Ragu:

Pieces of beef (I bought beef goulash pieces from PnP – because its slow cooked any semi decent meat will do, obviously the better your meat the better it will taste in the end)
1/4 cup of flour
thyme & basil
1 onion
4 little cloves of garlic
2 large carrots (diced)
5 small celery stalks (diced)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup red wine
1.5 cups of beef stock

*preheat the oven to 180*

To start mix your thyme & basil into the flour. Toss the beef pieces in the flour mix till evenly covered.
Brown the beef in a hot pan – about 2 minutes – then set aside to rest.
Chop up the onion and fry with the crushed & chopped garlic. When the onions start to brown add the carrots & celery and fry until the veggies soften a bit (about 10 minutes).
Next add the balsamic, and the beef. Once the balsamic has reduced a bit add your wine. (I might have ended up adding a tad more wine at a later stage – just judge by taste here)
Add your stock to the pan and allow to simmer for a few minutes before transferring to an oven dish.
Cover and bake for 2 hours.

When your Beef Ragu has about 20 minutes to go, you can start the polenta.

Pour your water & milk into a pot and bring to a boil. When boiling add the polenta and stir (or whisk) constantly so that no lumps form. I used a whisk right till I wanted to serve – it just makes it easier to keep it smooth.
You have to literally stand at your pot and stir from beginning to end. You dont want lumpy polenta.
After about 10 – 15 minutes of stirring you have a choice to make – if you want smooth, soft creamy polenta you should take it off the heat when it is the consistency of kind of a thick yoghurt, if you want a more thick, polenta that will hold its shape when dished up you will need to keep it on the heat and keep stirring until it thickens to the consistency of sort of a cottage cheese (?? I am not sure if these are the right references!)
Either way, when your polenta is the thickness/creamyness that you want, take it off the heat, add your butter & parmesan and mix in well.

Take your ragu out after 2 hours, dish up and enjoy.

Mmmmm mmmm! The perfect winter warmer dish. It doesn’t get much homier than this.

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