Sweet & Sour Meatballs with Polenta

No offense to T.S. Eliot, but I firmly believe March is the cruelest month.  It’s long, for one.  There are no holidays.  It still gets dark early, and it’s still cold.  The tourists are in full force, so you’re actually avoiding the cherry blossoms, at all costs.  And someone chose March to be Women’s History Month – which don’t get me wrong – this is important – but how come we’ve got to cram all the events and all the meetings and all the speeches and all the things into March?  I’m pretty sure – actually I know – that women are awesome all year round.  (AKA, I’m really lucky and work on issues that I feel incredibly passionate about, but I’m also le tired.  Growing a human is hard.)

However, despite the lack of posts and despite whining above, rest assured, we’ve been dominating Cooking Light’s March issue.  No one is going to call these meatballs pretty – but they were delicious.  And polenta…it’s the new staple in our house.

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Sweet & Sour Meatballs with Polenta

for the polenta:

  • 3-4 cups chicken or veggie stock
  • salt, pepper
  • 3/4 cup ground polenta
  • 1-2 tablespoons butter
  • shredded cheese of your choice

for the meatballs

  • about a pound of lean ground meat (we used turkey)
  • splash sesame oil (this stuff is powerful)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • splash soy sauce
  • pinch of panko or breadcrumbs

for the sauce

  • about 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup ketchup (yes, really)
  • big dash sriracha or hot sauce
  • about 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • big dash of worcestshire sauce
  1. Make your meatballs.  Combine the turkey, onion, garlic, sesame oil soy sauce and breadcrumbs.  Roll into about 15-20 meatballs.
  2. In a large skillet over medium heat, add the meatballs and cook until brown on all sides, about six minutes.  Remove the meatballs from the pan and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, get your stock boiling for your polenta.  (Note: you may need way more liquid at the end.)
  4. Add water, ketchup, sriracha, oyster and worcestshire sauce to the pan and whisk it up.  Return meatballs to the pan and cover, simmering until cooked through, about 5-8 minutes.
  5. When the stock is boiling, add salt and pepper.  Gradually whisk in the polenta.  Depending on what kind you use – it may take up to 25 minutes.  Add butter and cheese and season to taste.
  6. Serve the whole shebang with a healthy side salad – this kind of heaviness needs a little greenery.

 

The Verdict:

We are the converted.  Polenta – never again pre-prepared.  Ever.  THIS is the way to go.

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Cheesy Polenta & Mushroom Chickpea Medley

So.  It’s Friday and I still haven’t posted my menu plan for the week.  This is because March is #crazypants and there IS no menu plan.  I’ve been eating cereal for dinner.

March is regularly the month where work becomes a little more insane than usual, and cooking/exercising/sleeping/being a nice person (sometimes, I do try to be one!) goes by the wayside.  Planning, schmanning.

And then yesterday, we had a glorious snow day, and I scrounged around in the pantry and came out with this heaping bowl of comfort – inspired by Cooking Light.

IMG_3152Cheesy Polenta & Mushroom Chickpea Medley

  • olive oil
  • 2 cartons mushrooms, sliced
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large red onion, sliced
  • leaves from about 10 fresh thyme sprigs
  • about 1/2 cup white wine
  • 3 tablespoons or so balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup veggie or chicken stock
  • salt, pepper, crushed reds
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 box instant polenta and…
    • 4 1/2 cups water
    • blue cheese
    • a little pat butter
    • salt, pepper
    • about a cup of parmesan
  • topping: parsley (note: this would probably be heavenly tossed with a little arugula, which I did not have on hand)
  1. In a large, deep skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat.  Add mushrooms, onion and thyme; cook down about 4-5 minutes.  Add garlic and cook an additional 3-4 minutes.  Add white wine and vinegar, cook down a few minutes.  Add broth and season with salt and pepper.  Add chickpeas, bring the whole thing to a boil, reduce heat and simmer.
  2. For the polenta, bring your water to a roiling boil.  Add the polenta slowly – whisk swiftly so it doesn’t clump!  Remove from heat after it thickens and add your cheese.  I added the blue cheese cream from the steaks we had for Valentine’s Day as well as a hefty about of parmesan.  Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Place the polenta at the bottom of a bowl, top with the mushroom mixture, a little bit of parmesan and the parsley.

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The Verdict:

This is basically just comfort food in one bowl.  March: bring it on.