Monthly Archives: July 2009

Polenta and ground beef pie—comfort food

This is a casserole I made up the other day. It’s very simple and quite delicious.

It was loosely inspired by my mother’s “Tamale Pie,” which had a bit more of a Mexican flavor and used corn meal rather than polenta.

The “filling:”

1 lb ground beef (I bought very high quality, lean, grass fed beef)

1 onion diced

3 cloves garlic diced

1/2 tsp cumin

salt and pepper

Brown onion and garlic in a frying pan. Toss in ground beef, cumin, salt and pepper to taste.

Polenta:

3/4 cup polenta

1 cup of grated cheese–more or less to taste. I used an herb Monterey Jack but you can use any cheese you like really.

Cook polenta as directed on package. Add the cheese. Salt and pepper to taste

In a 8″ by 8″ square baking dish put the ground beef mixture on the bottom of the pan and then ladle the polenta on top of it. Bake until the polenta is browned.

This turned out to be a delightful comfort food. It made me feel like I was 5 years old eating kid food, but it was delicious and wholesome having used all organic ingredients.

Chicken Curry and Rice

It was time for me to get off my butt and make something.  Over the last several months life kinda just got in the way and I lost my motivation to cook (and eat well).  The last few days my desire to cook and be a bit healthier overcame everything else which lead me to venture back into the kitchen.  This dish – Chicken Curry and Rice.

Sorry to say there are no pictures with this one, just the recipe and my thoughts.

Chicken Curry Recipe

  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Fresh Ginger root (4 oz)
  • 1 lb Chicken (I suggest dark, not white)
  • 1 cup tomato paste
  • 3/4th cup plain yogurt
  • 3/4th cup coconut milk
  • 3 tbsp Curry powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp paprica
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp garam marsala
  • 3 tbsp Olive Oil

Start off by dicing your onions, garlic and cutting your chicken into “chunks” or cubes.

Brown your onions and garlic in a large, deep, pan, while using the Olive Oil to prevent burning.  Once brown, add in your spices and stir until a rough paste.  This part of the process shouldn’t take more than 3 to 5 mins.

Next add your chicken, tomato paste, yogurt and coconut milk.  Mix so that all ingredients blend together and simmer on medium/medium high heat for roughly 20 minutes.  Make sure you stir on a regular basis to prevent the sauce from separating, sticking and/or burning. At the 20 minute mark use a garlic press to add the fresh ginger. Stir and cook for an additional 10 minutes.

At this point your dish is ready.  Serve over rice.

Thoughts

1) I made two mistakes with this dish.  First, I used chicken breast instead of dark chicken meat.  Big mistake as the taste of the dark meat significantly adds to the taste.  Something about the white meat just stands out.  Second, pick a good rice.  I would suggest jasmine rice.

2) The yogurt made for a really thick sauce, and I love it.  My previous curry used cream.  Not sure which I prefer.

3) I’m not 100% sold on the use of tomato paste.  I had used tomato sauce in the past and think that is the way to go.  The paste add too much of a marinara taste to it.

4) There was a nice after taste to the sauce but  I cannot identify what exactly it was.

In the end, I would say this was a solid dish.  There needs to be some experimenting with the taste of the sauce.  I cannot place my finger on it – it’s not bad, I actually really like it, but there is something… missing…

If you have any good curry recipes please do let me know. Enjoy.