Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Polenta Casserole

I had never eaten polenta much before I made this casserole.  I bought some polenta, and needed to find a way to use it, so I decided to think of it like I would any other mexican food.  I think it turned out really good!

Polenta (Mine comes in a box with two bags inside.  One bag uses 4 cups of water.  So adjust your amount  so that you use enough to use 4 cups of water.)
1 can refried beans
About 2 cups grated cheese (I used cheddar, but you could use a white cheese too)
1/2 pound of ground beef or pork
2 cans of diced tomatoes (I can't buy canned tomatoes, so I just cut up about 3 cups of tomatoes and sautee)
2 cloves of garlic minced
1/2 cup of chopped onion
2  or 3 chopped hot chili peppers
2 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. cumin
Chicken bouillion cube or powder--to taste
1 cup water

Brown meat in a frying pan.  When meat is almost browned, add the garlic, onion and peppers.  Saute until they are soft.  Add the tomatoes.  If you are using fresh tomatoes, saute until they are broken down and soft. Canned tomatoes just need to be heated through.   Add the chili powder, paprika, and cumin.  Mix well.  Add water and chicken bouillion.  Let simmer
In another pan, cook the polenta according to the package directions.  Mine says to cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.  I don't have that much strength, so I probably only cook it 3 minutes, but it seems fine.  :)  Spread the polenta in a 9X13 pan.  Spread the refried beans on top.  Next layer the cheese on top of the beans.  Pour the hot meat mixture over the cheese.  Bake in the oven for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

I like to serve this with some pickled cucumbers and possibly a little pickled onion.  To pickle them, I make a dressing of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  You can add a little fresh chopped garlic and some dried basil if you want.  Beat this mixture until it thickens slightly.  Then pour it over the vegetables and serve.