Oh, how the magical Le Creuset has inspired me! I can't get myself out of the kitchen this week. It could also be due to the absolutely frigid temperatures, but I'm giving the credit to Ma Cherie. Oh yeah, I named it!
I brought Mushroom Bourguignon leftovers to work for lunch with a nice slice of crusty bread and that was great (way better than egg noodles!). And then I saw Cafe Cyan's post about polenta and mushrooms and was so excited to have a new way to enjoy my mushroom leftovers. What a great idea.
I'd never cooked with polenta before! If you're also ignorant, polenta is simply cornmeal boiled with water. You can make it so it's mushy like grits, or you can let it set up in a pan and cut it (almost like jell-o which sounds gross but there's no gelatin in polenta).
I bought a tube of polenta at the grocery store. It's pre-cooked so you can eat it right from the tube. But I think it's better to grill it on a grill pan (or pan fry) to add a nice crispy texture. It goes great with Mushroom Bourguignon.
What I couldn't get out of my head after tasting the grilled polenta was the amazing arepa I had at Caracas Arepa Bar in the East Village, NYC last October. Arepas are a cornmeal based muffin stuffed with a variety of latin ingredients. Mine had roasted red peppers, jalapenos, white cheese, black beans, and plantains.
With my remaining grilled polenta rounds, I tried to recreate the flavors of that arepa with stuff I had lying around my kitchen.
I started with 1/2 yellow onion, 3 carrots, and a poblano pepper, all diced. Then added a can of black beans. I spiced this up with cumin, salt, and pepper.
I scooped this goodness over the grilled polenta, topped with diced fresh mozzarella cheese and homemade roasted tomato salsa.
It was fabulous and actually did taste a lot like my Caracas Arepa! I'm starting to think there are very few restaurant dishes I can't recreate in my own home. Plus when I make them they are cheaper, smaller portions, and much healthier!