Once you’ve settled on the principal protein for dinner, thenyou need to decide what will go with it. Here are two choices with some surprising dimensions. The first iswell-seasoned pan-browned polenta; it’s flecked with cookedvegetables. the second treats potatoes in a manner similar to risotto,the creamy Italian rice dish.
Its inspiration comes from CHarleneRollins of the New Bonnville Hotel in Boonville, California. GrilledPolenta 1 samll onion, finely chopped 3 tablespoons each minced greenbell pepper and minced, drained oil-packed dried tomatoes 3 clovesgarlic, minced or pressed About 1/4 cup oil from dried tomatoes or oliveoil 4 1/2 cups regular-strength chicken broth 1 1/2 cups polenta oryellow cornmeal In a 4- to 5-quart pan on medium heat, cook onion, bell pepper,tomatoes, and garlic in 2 tablespoons oil, stirring occasionally, untilonions are limp, about 7 minutes. Add 3 cups broth and bring to a boil,uncovered, over high heat. Meanwhile, mix polenta with remaining broth. Using a long-handledspoon, gradually stir the polenta mixture into the boiling broth; itwill thicken and spatter.
Reduce heat to low and continue stirring 5minutes longer. Remove from heat and at once spoon polenta into a 4- by8-inch loaf pan. Let stand 30 minutes to firm (or cool, cover, andchill up to 3 days). Run a knife around edges of pan and turn polenta out onto a board.Carefully cut crosswise into 8 slices; cut slices diagonally in half.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 10- to 12-inch nonstick frying pan onmedium heat. Fry polenta (do not crowd). Uncovered. Until golden,about 5 minutes on each side; remove from pan and keep warm. Cookremaining polenta similarly; add oil if needed.
Makes 8 servings.Potato Risotto 1/4 cup (1/8 lb.) butter or margarine 1 small onion,finely chopped 1 clove garlic, minced or pressed 1/2 teaspoon fresh or1/4 teaspoon dry thyme leaves 1 3/4 cups regular-strength chicken broth3 cups (u 1/4 lb.
) peeld and shredded thin-skiined potatoes 1/4 cup eachwhipping cream and grated Parmesan cheese Salt Fresh thyme sprigs(optional) Melt butter in a 2- to 3-quart pan on medium heat. Add onion,garlic, and thyme leaves; cook, stirring often, until onion is soft. Addbroth; boil, uncovered, on high heat until mixture is reduced to 1 1/2cups. Add potatoes and cook on medium heat, uncovered, stirring often,until potatoes are tender to bite, about 25 minutes.
Remove from heatand mix in cream and cheese. Add salt to taste. Pour into a warm bowland garnish with thyme sprigs. Makes 4 to 6 servings.