Wednesday, November 14, 2012

baked: a kitchen story.

let's get one thing straight-i don't do a whole lot of cooking and certainly never thought i'd be writing a blog post about foods i'd made with my bare hands. that said, when i do chef it up, i'm actually fairly good at it (to the surprise of EVERYONE, including me). until recently, the kitchen has really been sugarbear's domain, but with my new funemployed schedule*, i have all sorts of time to work on my campaign for Wife of the Year, starting with going to the grocery store** and cooking actual meals. it is certainly no secret that prior to meeting and marrying Husband, i consisted on a healthy diet of bud light and twizzlers (see: here and here), but b-radical is more of a "foodie" and he enjoys eating things like "meals" that require "ingredients" and include things like "side dishes" and sometimes utilize things like an "oven" or a "recipe", so i've been taking advantage of the new flexibility in my schedule to blow his mind and tastebuds with culinary concoctions such as

LAMB AND POLENTA "LASAGNE" (the lasagne part is in quotations, i swear).

technically, i whipped this up for an impromptu girls night, but sugarbear insisted that 1. i make lots of extras so he could savor the flavor later and 2. none of my girlfriends were to be allowed thirds. AND I MADE IT AND IT WAS SO DELICIOUS. i was super nervous that it would not be tasty, but manoman, was i wrong. so without further ado, from the archives of gourmet magazine (RIP), here it is, including my sarcastic commentary and modifications (noted in parentheses).
LAMB AND POLENTA "LASAGNE" (gourmet magazine, circa february 2005)

yield: Makes 4 servings (i doubled this. way too few servings for the amount of work involved.)
active time: 25 min
total time: 1 1/4hr (includes standing time) (uh, this was NOT NOTED in my gourmet recipe and i totally started cooking way too late.)

-2 (14- to 15-ounce) cans stewed tomatoes (i totally think diced tomatoes would have been just fine, and easier.)
-1/2 plus 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice (i used un-ground allspice (it kind of looks like peppercorns), and i mashed it up in a mortar and pestle LIKE A BOSS because i thought the chunkier spice would be cooler, and it was.)
-1 pound ground lamb (not lean) (not lean my ass, lamb doesn't come in a not lean version, right?) (also, i think you need more like 1.5 pounds of lamb, not kidding.)
-1 pound ready-made plain polenta (in a plastic-wrapped roll) (you can find this shit next in the organic section, next to the quinoa and couscous, or probably somewhere else.)
-1/2 pound whole-milk mozzarella, coarsely grated (about 1 cup) (whole milk? what the fuck. none of the mozzarella options available noted that they were whole milk so i just picked the one with the coolest label.)

-Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 400°F. 

-Drain 1 can tomatoes, reserving juice, then roughly break up tomatoes into 1/2-inch pieces with a spoon if necessary. (this is why you should just use diced tomatoes, duh, but maybe they were not available in the olden days of 2005, but i had a really fun time cutting up whole tomatoes with a knife, not a spoon. who uses a spoon to cut things? come on, gourmet.)

-Purée second can of tomatoes, including juice, with reserved juice (from other can), 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon allspice in a blender until smooth. (BLENDER. use a blender, not the fancy food processor that you got for a wedding gift and don't know how to use, plus that shit has like 12 pieces that all have to be hand washed.) Transfer tomato sauce to a 2-quart heavy saucepan and boil, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until reduced to about 1/2 cup, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat.

-Heat a dry 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat until hot (i don't get how that is important, but whatever, meat in a cold pan would have been fine too.), then brown lamb with 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon allspice, stirring and breaking up lumps (but leaving meat slightly chunky), about 5 minutes. (i totally drained all the lamb fats out of the meat at this junction and then returned that shit to the pan.) Add drained tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until juices are absorbed, about 1 minute. (at this point, i went ROGUE and added like two cups of chopped spinach, plus ANOTHER ROUND OF THE ALLSPICE because i like some flavor in my foods, bitches, and these moves totally paid off later.)

-Cut polenta into 1/4-inch-thick slices with a sharp knife and cover bottom of a 9-inch ceramic or glass pie plate with half of polenta slices (overlapping slightly) (that shit does not need to overlap,btw) (also, GOURMET FAIL. i used a glass pie pan for the first lasagne (don't forget, i doubled it) and that shit was not nearly deep enough for these future steps, so just use a 9" square casserole dish.). Scatter half of lamb mixture over polenta, then top with half of mozzarella, then remaining polenta. Scatter remaining lamb on top and spread tomato sauce over meat, then top with remaining mozzarella. (so the layers are as follows: polenta, lamb mixture, cheese, polenta, lamb mixture, TOMATO SAUCE, cheese. it is tricky.)

-Bake, uncovered, until bubbling and beginning to brown, about 20 minutes. (or like 30 minutes, you want that shit to be browned on top.) Let stand, loosely covered with foil, 15 minutes before serving.

The End. trust when i say, this meal was tasty and i look forward to leftovers. please know that in the future, when i cook dinner, you are INVITED.

*more on MY NEW JOB VENTURES soon, i promise promise. cross my heart and hope to die of happiness.

**prior to quitting my previous job, i was working such insane hours that i had not been to the grocery store in like, six months, possibly nine months. brad had been doing all the grocery shopping and i am a jerk bag wife.

1 comment:

moving bee hives pacoma said...

Wow, mmmm, such a delicious lasagna. I remember tasting it with cheddar or parmesan cheese. Thanks for sharing this recipe.