This dish is such a delight to make. You will renew your love for Polenta. If you have never had good polenta try my good Buddy James Martin's at Gilardi's Restaurant off Walnut Street in Springfield Missouri. www.gilardisonwalnut.com He prepares a Creamy Polenta with Meatballs!
~Chef Paul Allen
Grass Fed Beef Marinara
Garnish for Plate
Start Polenta first for it will need about an hour of love and attention from start to finish. Boil water and chicken stock with some Celtic Sea Salt. Always taste your liquid when cooking anything. (rice, pasta, quinoa, polenta etc.) Envision your polenta and how much of that liquid it is going to drink to be nice and plump. (Rice drinks double its weight so season it good. Should taste like ocean water for well seasoned rice.)
Slowly pour in corn grits when water is boiled and add butter. Stir with wooden spoon for 40 minutes on low. Grits will start to lift from the sides of the pan when done. I always cook a little longer than typical recipe calls for to make sure flavor balance is achieved.
Now add milk, cream, scallions and stir till incorporated evenly. When nice and creamy (don't be afraid to add more liquid) taste and then season with Sea Salt. (every time you season, stir and let rest for a moment before you taste again, the salt needs to spread its love through every grit.) Put a lid on and reserve for service. (if it sits a while no worries, just add more liquid when serving to make nice and creamy again.)
While you are waiting for liquid to boil with polenta (to make liquid boil faster cover with lid and ad salt during heating, raises cooking temp) it is time to execute this amazing sauce!
Sautee onion, celery, scallions, butter and olive oil. (I like the flavor the butter gives this dish and I mix it up with the olive oil to tie it all in) Cook for about 4-6 minutes on Med to Med/High heat (I only cook on high heat but this comes with time and skill, start on medium and when you get faster increase your heat) and then add garlic. (garlic cooks faster than onions and celery and will burn if cooked together at the same time) Cook this mixture until translucent (clear in color and soft), clear the middle of your sautee pan and add a little more butter and olive oil if needed and then add seasoned ground beef. (I like to smash down on the pan as much as possible to get an even sear and nice texture) Let the beef kiss the pan for a bit (4-8 minutes) so you get that nice sear. Now stir onion mixture with beef mixture and sear other side of meat and add Italian Seasoning. About 2 minutes into the second sear, deg-laze your pan with White Wine, and a little Chicken Stock (these flavors will seal in with the meat and your whole dish will taste well seasoned). Cook this to sec (meaning no liquid is left) and then add Marinara and Chicken Base Paste. Lower stove to Low or Med Low, cover, cook till polenta is done. When about to serve season with Sea Salt.
When everything is ready take whole spinach leaves to garnish plates for adults. Chiffonade (skinny slices) spinach for children plates. (children will eat spinach if the bites aren't too big, well at least mine prefer small) Lay Polenta atop the layer of spinach and then the marinara then the cheese. Sprinkle a little seasoning for color and added touch and a dash of love.....................Shakka!
Recommended Beer Paring: Local IPA, Mothers Toe Head, Christmas Beer (I just love Christmas Beer)
Recommended Wine Pairing: Barrel Fermented Chardonnay, Pinot Noir (pinot goes good with anything), Cab, Merlot, Cab Mix, Chianti