Thursday, March 6, 2014

Quick Dinner At Home

Hands off cooking. That's what I call it. Long cooking dishes that simmer with barely any help at all. More often than not I am doing three or four other things while I am getting dinner ready. So I keep a mental catalogue of busy day dinner recipes.
At the top of that list is crock pot polenta. I don't know why I would ever make it any other way (except maybe baked). Whisk together 2 cups of polenta with 7 cups hot water  (sometimes I use part stock or milk), a pinch of salt and 2 TB of olive oil. Then whisk in a good quantity of grated cheese (12 ounces maybe) -- I like parmesan but cheddar, fontina, or pecorino are all good choices. No stirring (unless I walk by and feel like peeking in), no worrying just 2 hours on high and you have a creamy, cheesy, comforting base for dinner.
Vegetables are usually the last minute dish I am struggling to have ready with the rest of the meal. While I was slow cooking I thought I'd try a variation on long cooking broccoli rabe. I combined 2 cups of broccoli florets and peeled stems. 1 cup of olive oil, a hearty pinch of crushed chile peppers,  6 peeled cloves of garlic and a sprinkle of salt in a saucepan. I put everything over medium heat until the oil started to sizzle, tossed in 1/2 cup water, covered the pot and let the broccoli simmer on low for an hour and 15 minutes. This is old fashioned. Not modern crunchy vegetables, but soft warm deep green flavor.
I turned the polenta to low after maybe an hour and 45 minutes and let the broccoli wait while I pan fried spicy Italian sausage.
A perfect combo, homemade with hardly a moments work.

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