Monday, May 22, 2017

Sweet Potato Polenta: 100 Days of Recipes, Day 46

Thanks to a rainy, cooler turn in the unusually warm weather we've been having, and to a prompt from Instagrammer @glennbenglish and inspiration from my current book companion (and kitchen bff), I veered off the salad road and onto Comfort Food Lane last night. In Glenn's post, he described making Sweet Potato Grits, which I've done a version of in the past (not as refined as his description, which I will most definitely try!). Sunday was the second day of Studio Stroll, and it was rainy and cool all day, and after slogging around the studio grounds taking down pennants in the rain, I was ready for something warming and comforting, so I headed home with visions of Sweet Potato Grits in my head.

My ingredients: delicious cornmeal from East Fork Farm,
a sweet potato, veggie broth (I love making my own stock,
but always keep some on hand for those long days), and
inspiration from my bff cookbook.
As with so many of my brilliant recipe ideas, I got home and discovered I didn't have all the proper ingredients. I was out of grits, but had some cornmeal. What's the diff, you say? For me, it's in the texture, and a more finely ground cornmeal is for Polenta, not Grits. Not sad, because I had just read a chapter in "The Pleasures of Cooking for One" by my kitchen bff Judith Jones, and she included a recipe for a baked Polenta that is how I love making it most, so Sweet Potato Polenta (because I'm almost never without sweet potatoes)!

Baking in handmade is easy, just heat it with the oven!
Place the sweet potatoes, cornmeal, and seasonings in the pot.

Pour heated broth on top of sweet potatoes and corn meal.

Stir it all together, making sure the cornmeal is well mixed with
the sweet potatoes and the broth.
I had also been wanting to make up a batch of my Mom's Meatballs, but to avoid the stove top spatter of cooking meatballs, and because I was tired and didn't want to stand in the kitchen while things cooked when I could be on the floor with my legs against the wall, I spread the pat√© out thinly on a baking sheet and baked it 'a la' my meatloaf, with a schmear of sriracha tomato paste on top. I used a canape cutter when it came out of the oven, and had cute, little flat meatballs to go with my polenta!

Comfort dinner on a rainy night accomplished.

Easy prep and great comfort food meal in a warm, stoneware bowl on a rainy night. 
Sweet Potato Polenta
(inspired by the aforementioned InstaPost, and Judith Jones' recipe for "Baked Polenta with Vegetables", 
in The Pleasures of Cooking for One, Alfred A. Knopf, 2009)

2 small sweet potatoes, peeled, steamed or boiled, and mashed with a bit of butter
2 cups vegetable broth
2/3 cup fine ground cornmeal
1/2 tsp salt
several grinds of pepper

I cooked this in one of my ceramic bakers, so I did not pre-heat the oven. If you're using pyrex or other baking dishes, you can pre-heat to 350 degrees.

Bring the vegetable broth to a light simmer, then turn off the heat.

Place the mashed sweet potatoes in the baker. Sprinkle the polenta on top, and add the salt and pepper. Pour the heated veggie broth on top, and stir carefully to fully blend.

Place the baker in a cold oven, then set the temp to 350. Bake for about 30 minutes, and check to see that the liquid has been absorbed. Let cool just slightly before spooning into a bowl. Grate a little pecorino on top if you like.

Also like many of my favorite recipes, I'm already thinking of what I can do with the leftovers...

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