Comfort food at it’s finest! Bring on the Seattle rains…I’m good to go! All I need is this casserole, a spoon, a little grated parm and an old movie. Oh, and wine. Definitely some good red wine!
Polenta makes the crust of this beauty and the filling is a thick ragu of ground chicken, tomatoes, mushroom and zucchini. You can easily substitute ground beef or turkey. I used ground chicken because I truly like the flavor. You could even go veggie with eggplant, sweet potatoes and carrots.
Polenta is a blank canvas for flavor. Add herbs, butter, cheese – your imagination is your only limit! This makes a very hearty meal and a small serving fills up a hungry dude. You can double the recipe to put in a 9 x 13 pan and feed a crowd.
- If you have not cooked polenta before, you will wonder why. Its easier than rice. Just watch out when it boils, it really pops, and besides the mess it will make, it will leave a nice mark on ya. There is a great polenta cooking tutorial on The Kitchn.
- Do not over bake – you will dry out your polenta. You want it all nice, puffy and bright yellow when it comes out of the oven.
- 5 cups water
- 1½ cups polenta (also known as grits)
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup grated Parmesean cheese
- 2 teaspoon salt
- 1 pound ground chicken, beef or turkey
- 1 chopped onion
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 4 oz can tomato paste
- 1 14.5 oz can diced tomato (un-drained)
- 1 zucchini chopped
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons dried basil
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley with more for garnish
- ½ cup shredded cheese (such as cheddar, monteray jack or a combination of both)
- Grated Parmesan Cheese
- Bring water to boil. Add polenta. Bring to a simmer and cover loosely (have lid a bit askew so steam escapes). Check after a few minutes and stir. You don't need to stir this constantly but give it a good stir every few minutes. The polenta is done when it is thick, creamy and you can make a good indent in it. Takes about 30 minutes.
- Remove from heat. Add butter and parmesan.
- While polenta is cooking:
- In a large skillet, brown your ground meat and transfer to a plate. Drain juices. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in skillet. Add onion and garlic. Sauté until onion is translucent. Add tomato paste, diced tomato. Simmer for a few minutes. Add zucchini and herbs. Simmer about 10 minutes until thick.
- Spray an 8 x 8 baking pan or deep pie dish with non stick cooking spray. Pour in polenta. Using the back of a spoon, push the polenta up the sides of the dish. Creating a well in the middle.This will get easier as it cools. Once you have a shallow 'pool' in the center, add your ragu.
- Bake for 40 minutes at 375 degrees until puffy and hot in the middles. Top with grated cheese and bake for additional 5 minutes.
- Serve and top with Parmesan Cheese!