Tuesday, June 08, 2010

A Little More Comfort

The other day I heard someone call the weather we've been having "June-uary," an apt descriptor for the chilly deluge that's drowned previous rainfall records and nearly pushed the Willamette over its banks for the first time since the Clinton administration.

And while the weathermen are saying it's going to start drying out soon…btw, that job has to have been fun lately, huh?…I can almost guarantee there are going to be a few more evenings where it'll be nice to turn on the oven and fill up on something warm and hearty.

The other night I found myself staring at the Le Creuset and thinking a nice casserole would be just the thing for dinner. Then I remembered a polenta dish I'd experimented with a few years ago. Since we still have a few bags of Ayers Creek's Roy's Calais flint corn in the freezer from some propitious hoarding I did last fall, I pulled one out and grabbed some frozen tomato sauce from last summer. A little chopped kale, a little cheese and—voila!—instant comfort.

Polenta, Tomato and Cheese Casserole

4 c. chicken stock (or vegetable stock)1 Tbsp. butter, margarine or olive oil
1 1/2 c. polenta
Salt and pepper to taste
3 c. tomato or spaghetti sauce
2 c. chopped kale
2-3 c. cheese (mozzarella, parmesan, cheddar or any combination)

Preheat oven to 350°. While oven warms, heat stock in medium saucepan over high heat, adding butter at the beginning. When it starts to boil, reduce heat and whisk in polenta. Keep at bare simmer and stir for a few minutes until it is the consistency of porridge, adding salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat to lowest setting and cover, stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn't burn.

Heat sauce until it is warm. Stir in kale and allow it to wilt. Grate cheese. Pour half of polenta into 2 1/2 qt. casserole, top with half of sauce and half of cheese. Pour rest of polenta over that and top with rest of sauce and cheese. Place in oven and bake for 30 min. until cheese melts and begins to brown.

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