This is a delicious all-purpose meat sauce from cookbook author Bonnie Stern. Try it over pasta too. Just a little bit of sausage adds a lot of flavour to the recipe, but you can omit it if you prefer and use an equal amount of lean beef.
Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 45 mins
Yields: 4 servings
½ oz dried wild mushrooms
2 tsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic , finely chopped
¼ tsp hot red pepper flakes, optional
1 sweet red pepper, seeded and diced
½ lb Extra Lean Ground Beef Sirloin, Round or Ground Beef
1 Extra Lean Italian (2 oz/ 60g) sausage, removed from casing
1 can (28 oz/796 mL) plum tomatoes, with juices, pureed or broken up
1 tsp salt and pepper
1 cup quick-cooking cornmeal
2 tbsp EACH grated Parmesan cheese and chopped fresh parsley
1. Cover dried mushrooms with 1 cup (250 mL) warm water; let soak for 30 minutes. Strain liquid through a paper towel-lined sieve and reserve. Rinse mushrooms thoroughly and chop.
2. Heat oil in large, deep nonstick skillet on medium heat. Cook onion, garlic and hot pepper flakes gently for 5 to 8 minutes or until tender but not brown.
3. Add red pepper; cook for a few minutes. Add beef and sausage meat; cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until brown. Drain.
4. Add mushrooms, mushroom liquid and tomatoes. Bring to boil and cook for 30 minutes or until quite thick. Add 1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt and 1/2 tsp (2 mL) pepper.
5. Meanwhile, to prepare polenta, bring 6 cups (1.5 L) water and remaining salt and pepper to boil in large pot. Slowly whisk in cornmeal. Stirring with long spoon, cook over medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until tender. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.
6. Serve polenta topped with sauce and garnish with cheese and parsley.
Make Ahead Tip: The polenta and sauce can be made ahead. Pour polenta into a lightly oiled 13 x 9 inch (3.5 L) baking dish; top with sauce, cheese and parsley. Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day. Reheat, covered, in 350°F (180°C) oven for 30 minutes.
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