Thursday, May 19, 2011

Polenta Lasagna with Beef Ragout

Cheesy, beef ragout, polenta lasagna
I really liked this recipe if you're looking for a hearty dinner that will make you feel warm and satisfied.  I was inspired by this recipe, but really didn't follow too much.  I opted to use larger pieces of beef, slowly cooked in tomato sauce rather than ground beef.  The key to this recipe is to let it sit for at least an hour to cool down or else the distinct layers melt into each other when you're trying to serve.  I'd even suggest making it a day in advance and reheating if you really want it to be lasagna-like with the different layers.

  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 pound beef cut into large pieces
  • 1/2 cup good-quality dry red wine
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1-2 canned tomatoes or pulp, juices reserved
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh basil leaves
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 pound semi-soft cheese, such as fior di sardegna or tuscan caciotta, or young Spanish manchego, shredded
  • 2 cups instant polenta prepared according to package with milk, not water, and some cheese
Direction:  Prepare the polenta according to the package, but use milk or at least half milk for a much richer polenta.  I added some of the cheese in it to make it even better.  Also add salt and pepper to taste.  I find that it needs plenty of salt.  Add half of the polenta to the baking dish and let it harden why preparing the sauce.

For the sauce: add the onion to a pan with olive and saute until clear and cooked through.  Add garlic, onion, bay leaves, and beef.  Start to brown the beef and add the wine and let it cook off for a few minutes.  Add tomato paste and canned tomatoes.  Let cook on low heat for at least an hour until sauce reduces and becomes very thick.  Add salt, pepper, basil, or any other herbs you like (provencal, rosemary, etc).

Add half of the sauce over the first layer, then another layer of polenta.  Top with the rest of the sauce and all of the cheese.  Cook in the oven on medium heat until the cheese is melted and crispy.

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