Lush Life

To be a lush chef, does not mean to drink in excess - this can result in scary fires and bad dishes. A lush chef is one who enjoys gourmet cooking/baking, often with fresh ingredients and the smart use of one's home bar. If there happens to be half a bottle of beer, a glass of wine, or a sip of brandy left over...well, one cannot be wasteful. I give you permission to imbibe.

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The Lush Chef
Twitter: @thelushchef Provenance: Santa Monica Dish: Coq au Vin Spirit: Whiskey Wine: Malbec Beer: Hefeweizen Farmer's Market: Santa Monica on Main Street
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Nov 1, 2011

Bolognese-Smothered Parmesan Polenta

Libations used: 1/2 cup red wine
Libations left over: pretty much the whole bottle
Fall is always a busy time for publicists in the entertainment industry, and the madness began for the Lush Chef about two weeks ago.  I didn't have much time to cook over the weekend, so this fairly quick Bolognese-Smothered Parmesan Polenta from the gals at Bite Me seemed like the perfect dish to whip up on a Sunday evening.  And that also meant I could crack open a bottle of red wine and have a glass while I stirred the polenta...and waited for the sauce to simmer.  Since I really only had time to eat lunch during the week, this hearty and hot dish got me through the cold days and left me satisfied until my events were over.

Bolognese-Smothered Parmesan Polenta - serves 6-8
Polenta Ingredients:
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
Bolognese Sauce Ingredients:
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 3 1/2 cups chopped mushrooms (I used a variety of cremini and shiitake)
  • 1 large carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine (I used a Cabernet Sauvignon)
  • 2-3 inch piece of Parmesan rind
  • 1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese

To make the polenta:
- Coat an 11x7 inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
- In a large pot, add the water and salt and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to low and slowly add the cornmeal, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon for about 10 minutes.  The polenta should be thick and smooth.  Your wine glass should be full.
- Remove from heat and stir in the Parmesan cheese.
- Spoon into your prepared baking dish and set aside.

To make the Bolognese Sauce:
- In a large pan or skillet, sauté the ground beef over medium-high heat and break it up as it cooks, for about 5 minutes or until no longer pink.
- Drain the beef in a colander and return the beef to the skillet.
- Add milk and cook the beef over medium-heat for about 3 minutes, until the milk is absorbed.
- Add the mushrooms, carrot, onion, garlic, basil, oregano, salt and pepper, cooking over medium-low heat for 8 minutes or until the onion is softened.
- Add the tomato sauce, wine and Parmesan rind to the meat mixture.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer partially covered for 30 minutes.
- Continue sipping your glass of red wine, or maybe have another glass.
- Remove from heat and discard the rind.
- Slice the polenta into 6-8 servings and spoon the sauce over each portion.
- You can finish with freshly grated Parmesan, if you desire.