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Today's post comes from the recipe collection of one of the chefs behind the scenes at insolence + wine. Irene is sharing her family's polenta and stew recipe, which is perfect for the cooler winter months.
This recipe has been passed down in the family for the last 100 years. My Granny cooked this every year around the holidays when I was a kid, and I have fond memories of her in the kitchen dressed to the nines, trying to teach my cousins and I how to make this time consuming, but comforting recipe. She’d always cook the polenta in her big copper pot, which one day I hope to replace and have one of my own.
The last year she made it, I remember my uncles were painting the house and she said she was going to make polenta and stew for lunch, however I prefer to cook it for dinner, being able to take my time cooking it while I chase after my nearly one-year old daughter.
Ingredients For Stew:
- 1 1/2 pounds sirloin, chopped into 1/2 inch cubes (or 2 pounds stew meat)
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 minced garlic cloves
- 5 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups red table wine (we used San Marcos Creek Red Table Wine)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Kitchen Bouquet Browning & Seasoning Sauce
- salt + pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 400º
- Coat meat evenly in flour, salt and pepper.
- In a frying pan over medium-high heat, add the olive oil. Once nearly smoking, add the sirloin and brown in batches about 10 minutes. Transfer meat to dutch oven and set aside.
- Deglaze the pan with one cup red table wine, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add onion and garlic, and cook until soft and fragrant. Add to dutch oven, along with 5 cups boiling water, along with salt and pepper to taste. Add browning & seasoning sauce and second cup of wine.
- In medium rack of pre-heated oven, cook mixture for 2 hours.
For Polenta, simply follow the instructions on your preferred polenta brand or instant polenta. I use the same brand as my Granny and recommend Gold Pheasant to you, too!
Pomegranate Spinach Salad
When you have a family member who works in the agriculture industry, you’ll sometimes find yourself being over-run by various vegetables throughout the year. Currently, my pantry is filled with onions (there’s nothing better than fresh onions that have never touched the onion cooler where they’re stored year-round), broccolini and spinach.
I make this salad pretty regularly from mid-November until Christmas, when pomegranates are readily available and my vegetable bin is stuffed with spinach. Of course, you can use other greens, or even a mix of greens, but spinach is my personal favorite way to enjoy pomegranate seeds, crumbled blue cheese and a delicious apple cider dressing. If you have pears or toasted walnuts, they’re a great addition, too!
For The Dressing:
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- salt + pepper to taste
For The Salad:
- 8 ounces spinach or mixed baby greens
- 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
- 1 ounce crumbled blue cheese or goat cheese
To make the dressing, in a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, honey, mustard, salt, and pepper. Add the oil and whisk constantly until the dressing is smooth.
Suggested Wine Pairing
For this particular polenta and stew recipe, pair with a full-bodied red, such as Syrah or Cabernet Sauvignon (Cabernet Franc will be a bit too fruity for the gravy) or a red blend.
In 2015, we’ve all about Viognier blends. If we have to drink a white wine, Viognier is our top choice and when you mix it with Shiraz (Syrah) you’ve got a very well-balanced blend of red and white. If you like your reds on the lighter side, this particular wine has a lighter feel despite being a full-bodied red wine.
Geerlings & Wade is a brand we’ve mentioned here before—we absolutely love this Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s a good intermediate price (around $30 per bottle), so if you’re hesitant about jumping into the world of red wine, this is a wonderful wine to start with. This is a wine that quickly disappears from the table and makes a wonderful gift. So buy the half case, you’ll thank us later.