Creamy polenta with aubergine and chorizo in tomato sauce

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The weekend before last I enjoyed an ice cream in the sun in Berlin (without a coat on) so there is hope that spring is on it’s way to London too, even though it is a little too cold for my liking at the moment.

But before it’s all barbecues and salads, let’s indulge in the comfort food of colder seasons, like this very creamy polenta with aubergine and chorizo in a rich tomato sauce. Yes, let’s!

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Creamy polenta with aubergine and chorizo in tomato sauce, serves  2

Tomato sauce:

a little olive oil

1 garlic clove, pressed

1 tbsp tomato paste

1 can (400 g) chopped tomatoes

1/2 aubergine, peeled and cut into cubes

1/2 chorizo ring, peeled and sliced

oil for frying

Polenta:

600 ml chicken or vegetable stock 

150 g polenta

50 g butter

150 ml finely grated parmesan

2 garlic cloves, pressed

salt, white pepper

Fry the pressed garlic in some oil in a non-stick saucepan on medium heat for a minute. Add the tomato paste and chopped tomatoes and a splash of water. Let the sauce cook for 15-20 minutes until it’s thickened nicely. Stir occasionally. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 

Fry the aubergine cubes in oil until golden. Remove from pan and fry the chorizo slices. Add to the tomato sauce when it’s done. 

Bring the stock to the boil in a large saucepan. Add the polenta bit by bit, stir with a wooden spoon while it thickens (this happens pretty quickly). Remove from heat and add butter, parmesan, garlic, salt and pepper. Serve with the tomato sauce. 

 

Fast food: creamy polenta with sausage casserole

Polenta was non-existant in Sweden in the 80s when I grew up. We only had locally sourced food and anything ‘exotic’ was canned pineapple, bananas and peanuts. Several dishes from the 80s combine all three.

No, polenta I discovered on my own and loved from the first bite. I like the texture and the fact that it tastes of nothing until you’ve added butter and parmesan, and it is such a wonderful transformation.

I sometimes serve it simply with fried mushrooms or fried chorizo, but this time I wanted something even more soothing and comforting. The casserole is a cheat, but tastes lovely. Using French Toulouse sausages makes it as unauthentic as serving it with Spanish chorizo, but both versions work – believe me.

Just use good quality sausages as most of the flavour comes from them and season the sauce sauce to your own taste.

Creamy polenta with sausage casserole, serves 2

2 portions creamy polenta

4 Toulouse sausages

200 g tinned chopped tomatoes

50 ml water

balsamic vinegar after taste

1 pinch of sugar

salt, black pepper

grated parmesan to serve

oil for frying

Cut the skin of the sausages and push our the sausage meat. Fry it until cooked through in some oil. Add the tomatoes and water and bring to the boil and let thicken. Add balsamic vinegar, sugar and seasoning to your taste. Maybe also add some garlic. Plate the polenta and casserole, top with grated parmesan and enjoy.

 

Weekday wonders: creamy polenta with fried mushrooms

When I grew up in the 80s in the south of Sweden we ate potatoes several times a week, that was just the way it was in my meat, potatoes and veg kind of family, and I still love potatoes, but as I grew up and the world seems smaller, there are so many substitutes for potatoes to try for variation, and I definitely like variation.

The grain I am particular fond of is polenta, because it is, like the potato, very versatile. MY favourite way of eating polenta is the creamy version in a bowl with just a fork, and that’s what I had the other day.

All you need is a few ingredients you probably have at hand anyway, it only takes a few minutes, and served with something as simple as fried mushrooms sprinkled with parsley, this is a lovely weekday meal that comforts and tastes fantastic.

The recipe below is for one, and this is perfect food to cook for one. Just double, triple or whatever, the recipe to feed more.

Creamy polenta, serves 1

50 g polenta

200 ml chicken or vegetable stock

1 tbsp butter

50 ml grated parmesan

1/2-1 garlic clove

salt, white pepper

Bring the stock to the boil in a saucepan and stir in the polenta. Cook according to the instuctions of the packet. Remove the saucepa from the heat and stir in the garlic, butter and cheese. Stir to melt and season with salt and pepper.

Creamy polenta with mushrooms and chorizo

I’ve tried once before to make creamy polenta but I failed terribly although (or despite of) I followed the instructions on the back of the packet. To not repeat my failure I consulted an Italian cookbook (Bringing Italy Home by Ursula Ferigno) and a google-search, and that made me succeed this time. Yay!

There are few different types of polenta, both yellow and white, and according to the cookbook the yellow polenta that takes about 40 minutes to cook is the best one. I could only find yellow 1-minute polenta, but that worked well too.

I didn’t have parmesan at hand, so I used a Swedish mature hard cheese instead and at the end I added, very unorthodox, a dollop of Philadelphia cheese (I picked that up in the google search) and the result was a creamy fluffy polenta with lots of flavour.

I kept the trimmings simple, just fried button mushrooms and chorizo but it complemented the creamy polenta very well. A perfect weekday supper for a gloomy day, and if you use the quick polenta like I did, this is done in about 10 minutes.

Creamy polenta with mushrooms and chorizo, serves 2

100 g chorizo, in slices

200 g button mushrooms, in quarters

chopped parsley (optional)

butter and oil for frying

600 ml chicken- or vegetable stock

150 g polenta grains

50 g butter

150 ml finely grated cheese of parmesan type

2 garlic cloves, pressed

salt, white pepper

1 tbsp Philadelphia

Bring the stock to the boil in a large saucepan. Fry in separate pans the mushrooms in butter and the chorizo in oil. Season the mushrooms. Pour the polenta grains bit by bit into the stock, stirring with a wooden spoon until it thickens (which is fast). Remobve from heat and ass butter, cheese, garlic, salt, pepper and at the end the cream cheese. Serve in bowls with the mushrooms and chorizo. All you need is a fork – this is comfort food.