Saturday, February 4, 2012

Meatball Cacciatore with Polenta

Recipe adapted from Recipes +, April 2011 issue, page 56-57

Serves 4


2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
2 x 420g packets beef meatballs
1 small brown onion, finely chopped
200g button mushrooms, sliced
500g bottle tomato pasta sauce
1.25 litres (5 cups) chicken stock
2 tablespoons chopped basil
1 cup milk
1½ cups instant polenta (cornmeal)
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
¼ cup chopped parsley


  1. Heat oil in a large non-stick frying pan over moderately high heat. Add meatballs; cook and turn for 5 minutes or until browned. Transfer to a heatproof plate. Add onion and mushroom to pan; cook and stir for 3-5 minutes or until softened. Add pasta sauce, ½ cup of the stock and 2 tablespoons of basil. Season with pepper. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Add meatballs and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes or until sauce thickens slightly and meatballs are cooked.
  2. Meanwhile, bring the chicken stock to the boil in a large heavy-based saucepan over high heat. Use a wire balloon whisk to stir the stock. Gradually add the polenta in a thin steady stream, whisking constantly until all the polenta is incorporated into the liquid (whisking ensures the polenta is dispersed through the liquid as quickly as possible). Don't add the polenta too quickly or it will turn lumpy. 
  3. Reduce heat to low (cook the polenta over low heat otherwise it will cook too quickly and you will need to add extra water/stock). Simmer, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for 10 minutes or until the mixture thickens and the polenta is soft. (To test whether the polenta is soft, spoon a little of the polenta mixture onto a small plate and set aside to cool slightly. Rub a little of the polenta mixture between 2 fingers to see if the grains have softened. If the grains are still firm, continue to cook, stirring constantly, over low heat until the polenta is soft.)  
  4. Remove from heat. Add the milk and parmesan cheese, and stir until well combined. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Spoon polenta into shallow serving bowls. Add cacciatore; sprinkle with chopped parsley and pepper. Serve immediately.

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