Friday, May 6, 2011

Polenta with Creamy Tomato Sauce, Ramps, and Beef

This is a perfect application for leftover steak or roast beef. If you'd rather start from scratch, you could also use stew beef, but in that case be sure to brown it first and then allow at least an hour for simmering. Use a fairly plain tomato sauce here.

The ramps are really nice here, but in seasons you could substitute green garlic or shallots and some greens.

4 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups polenta cornmeal

1 Tbsp olive oil
10-12 ramps (about 1 bunch), roots sliced off, thinly sliced (green tops too)
3 cups tomato sauce
1/2 - 1 lb cooked steak or roast beef, diced or thinly sliced
1/2 cup cream (optional but really good)
Salt and pepper to taste

If you're using standard polenta, start it cooking before you put the sauce together. If you're using instant you can do it at the end.

Bring the water to a boil in a large saucepan and add the salt, then slowly whisk in the cornmeal. Reduce heat to a simmer and switch to a spoon, stirring to keep the polenta from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Use the pan lid defensively, as bubbling polenta can spit and give a nasty burn. Simmer, stirring frequently, until nice and thick.

To make the sauce, heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven. Add the ramps and saute until the greens wilt. Add the beef and pour in the tomato sauce. Simmer until the polenta is done or you are otherwise happy with it. Turn off the heat and stir in the cream if using. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

Spoon the polenta into bowls and top generously with sauce.

Serves about 6.

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