Cream of wheat. Grits. Polenta. I love it all! Warm and creamy, the definition of comfort food! So of course I would be all over a recipe that involves one of my favorites!
If you’ve never had polenta, it’s like cream of wheat but it’s made with cornmeal. Water, salt, cornmeal and a little bit of butter… easy peasy! Some people prefer a firm polenta “cake” which you’ll get by pouring the cooked polenta into a pan and letting it sit. I’ll eat it just about any way! When we go to Naples Ristorante e Pizzeria (my guys’ favorite pizzeria), I always order a side of creamy polenta (with a little marinara sauce). They eat pizza and I eat polenta! Mmmm….. Enough about me, you’re here for the recipe!
It sounds fancier and like you spent all day slaving over the stove if you leave off the “crockpot” part... braised beef ragu with polenta. It’s up to you. I do have to give the crock its props though, because it smells delicious while the beef is slow-cooking to perfection and I barely work up a sweat in the prep. That’s my kind of recipe, simple!
Have I mentioned how seriously yummy it was yet? Really! While I was eating it I kept thinking, “I actually made this”! I was also thinking, “Take it easy, you don’t have to eat the whole pot”! The Hubs and my son that didn’t leave me yet for higher learning ate heartily too. “Mmmm, good,” and “Thanks Mom,” were the reviews given. I served it with a salad and warm bread. The ragu was even tastier the next day. Ladies and gentlemen, this one is DEFINITELY a keeper!
Manga! I'm off to find the next recipe….
CROCKPOT BRAISED BEEF RAGU WITH POLENTA
For the Braised Beef Ragu
· 2 tablespoons olive oil
· 3 lbs. beef rump roast or round roast
· half a yellow or white onion, minced
· 3 cloves garlic, minced
· 1 28-ounce can San Marzano whole tomatoes
· ½ cup red wine
· 3 tablespoons tomato paste
· 1 teaspoon basil
· 1 teaspoon oregano
· 2 bay leaves
· 2 teaspoons salt
· black pepper to taste
For the Polenta
· 6 cups water
· 1-2 teaspoons salt
· 1¾ cup finely ground yellow cornmeal
· 3 tablespoons butter
· ¼ cup shaved parmesan cheese (optional)
1. Heat olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the roast and fry on each side for about 5 minutes, turning until the whole exterior is golden brown. If you’re short on time you can skip this step, but searing the meat really keeps the yummy flavor in!
2. Place all remaining ingredients with the beef in a crockpot or slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 4-5 hours or on low for 7-8 hours. You’ll know it’s ready when the beef falls apart easily when pulled at with two forks. I put the beef in a pyrex pan to shred it into pieces. Then add it back to the crockpot and give it a good stir. I pulled the bay leaves out at this point – nobody likes to chomp down on a bay leaf, well I don’t!
3. For the polenta, bring salted water to a boil. Slowly add the cornmeal, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. The polenta will start to thicken quickly. Continue whisking or stirring for 2-3 minutes before removing from heat. Stir in the butter until melted. Stir in the parmesan now if you’re using it, but why wouldn’t you? For solid and chewy polenta, pour into a rectangular dish, let cool for 15-20 minutes, and cut into pieces. For softer, creamy polenta (so good), serve immediately topped with a big ol’ scoop of beef ragu. Sprinkle on some parmesan or chopped parsley if you want.
Recipe #3 of 52