Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Fun with leftovers

Thought I'd share my recipe for leftover shepherd's pie that I made, the other night, using what was left of some roast lamb from the night before.

The twist with this recipe is instead of topping the pie with mashed potato, I used polenta instead.

I grew up eating a lot of polenta, because both of my parents hailed from a part of Italy, the north east where polenta was the staple carbohydrate. They ate a lot of it, sometimes with stews or cotechino sausage, but more often just with radicchio lettuce, and according to my dad, one small finger of Montasio cheese and a piece of home made salami. Times were tough in Italy in the fifties.

I like polenta with stews or osso bucco too, but I like it best when it is left to cool on a tray and then baked or grilled until the outside is crisp. This is what I did with this recipe.

If you have never made polenta, it's easy. Boil one litre of water, add salt and add one cup of polenta, in a stream, stirring with a wooden spoon as you go. Keep stirring for a few minutes until it thickens, then turn the heat to low and stir every so often. I find this makes enough for four people.

If you are going to fry or grill the polenta, add a few tablespoons of olive oil at the end. Turn it out onto an oiled baking tray and leave to cool. Then cut into fingers or use a heart shaped cutter and grill your polenta. Great with barbecues, or top with ratatouille for a nice vegetarian meal. I like melting cheese over it too for lunch.

And if you are interested in making leftover shepherd's pie, here is the recipe:

PREPARE polenta as above.
DICE One onion, Two carrots One leek, Two stalks of celery (or any combination of vegies you have to hand), and CHOP two cloves of garlic.
SOFTEN in two tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat.
DICE cooked leftover lamb (or beef or chicken for that matter), add to vegies. Season with salt and pepper.
COVER with liquid (water, stock, etc) - I used leftover red wine and a bit of water.
Bring to BOIL, the SIMMER for 30 minutes.
TRANSFER meat mixture to a baking dish.
PLACE polenta over the meat mixture (I tucked in some tomato slices too)

STREW with some grated cheese - I used grated parmesan here.

BAKE for about 30 minutes or so at 180 degrees C or until golden brown.

BTW - any other Blogger users out there. Do you have problems formatting your posts? I keep having trouble, especially with line spacing. Blogger has a complete mind of its own. AND I'm having difficulty navigating around my posts when I want to post more than one photo. It categorically does not want me to place photos where I want. Sheesh. Any light you could lend to why I might be having these problems would be appreciated!


Jan said...

Very interested to read about the polenta, as I did some a week or so ago. Possibly because I did not grow up with it, I do not like it plain, and keep looking for ways to make it more tasty.
I put chicken stock and did 1/2 litre - 1/2 cup and it made 12 squares, 3 meals, with steamed veges, one time salad another etc. I put a tomato salsa snd cheese on top when dry frying it, and it was surprisingly tasty.
All the best- Jan

Paola said...

Jan - Yes, I think stock helps boost the taste a bit. Also, my mother sometimes cooks in half-half water and milk.