Thursday, 6 December 2012

Braised balsamic leeks with creamy polenta

I have a confession, I am scared of polenta, or rather, I was scared of polenta. All that having to mix hard and fast to prevent lumps had me backed into a corner biting my nails. Plus it boils angrily, big hot volcanic mud pools of bubbling mass ready to send you to the hospital with major burns and a ruined manicure. Oh wait I already ruined the manicure with all that nail biting, see what polenta did to me! Well there must have been some courage added to my morning coffee as I decided to bite the bullet and cook today's recipe and you know what, it turns out polenta was all bubble and no bite. I had that corn meal whipped and tamed into a smooth puddle of creamy loveliness in no time at all. Was it worth it? I think so yes. Polenta only has as much flavour as you add to it so it's versatility is worth the crazy beating, plus I was able to use the leftovers to create a bonus meal with the polenta having taken on a whole other personality.


Braised balsamic leeks with creamy polenta adapted from Australian Woman's Weekly Vegi Food cookbook.

serves 4

2 large leeks, trimmed
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 clove garlic crushed
1 red onion, sliced
1 large red capsicum, sliced thinly
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup firmly packed fresh flat leaf parsely

Creamy Polenta
2 cups (500ml) water
1 cup (250ml) vegetable stock
1 1/4 cups (310ml) skim milk
1 cup polenta
2 tablespoons finely grated parmesan

Half leeks crossways; cut halves into quarters lengthways.
Heat oil in a large saucepan; cook garlic, stirring until fragrant. Add leek, onion and capsicum; cook, covered, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes or until leeks softens. Add vinegar, cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until almost all liquid has evaporated.
Meanwhile make the polenta. Combine the water, stock and 1 cup of the milk in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Gradually add polenta to liquid, whisking like a crazy person. Reduce heat; simmer, stirring, about 10 minutes or until polenta thickens. Stir in cheese and remaining milk just before serving.
Stir parsely into leek mixture. Serve with creamy polenta.

I've given you the recipe as published, except for the addition of the red onion. I found it lacking a bit in oomph though. You know oomph right, that secret ingredient all chefs carry with them wherever they go. Oh no wait, that's salt. Anyway, I solved the oomph problem by adding an extra tablespoon of balsamic to the leeks and some extra cheese and cracked black pepper to the polenta. Feel free to experiment with your own addition of oomph as you see fit:)
Oh and for those who don't know what polenta is, it's yellow cornmeal and you should be able to find it in your grocery store where the dried beans and pulses are, or in the bulk section.

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