Thursday, November 11, 2010

72. Tomato 'n' Beef Casserole With Polenta Crust

From 2009 Southern Living Annual Recipes

I've had this one on my list for awhile, thinking it would be a nice twist on the traditional "baked ziti" type of casserole, with polenta in place of the pasta.

And while this was good, it wasn't great. The polenta was delicious, with the steak seasoning and cheese, but the meat mixture lacked flavor. Perhaps I should have used hot Italian sausage...or Italian instead of plain tomatoes.

Some of the reviews on the SL site suggested pre-baking the layer of polenta to form more of a "crust," but I decided to follow the recipe, and I didn't mind the soft texture of the polenta.

Overall, this was an okay casserole that could be great with a few tweaks.
1 teaspoon salt

1 cup plain yellow cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon Montreal steak seasoning
1 cup (4 oz.) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese, divided
1 pound ground chuck
1 cup chopped onion
1 medium zucchini, cut in half lengthwise and sliced (about 2 cups)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 (14 1/2-oz.) cans petite diced tomatoes, drained
1 (6-oz.) can tomato paste

Preheat oven to 350°. Bring 3 cups water and 1 tsp. salt to a boil in a 2-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk in cornmeal; reduce heat to low, and simmer, whisking constantly, 3 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat, and stir in steak seasoning and 1/4 cup Cheddar cheese. Spread cornmeal mixture into a lightly greased 11- x 7-inch baking dish.

Brown ground chuck in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, stirring often, 10 minutes or until meat crumbles and is no longer pink; drain and transfer to a bowl.

Sauté onion and zucchini in hot oil in skillet over medium heat 5 minutes or until crisp-tender. Stir in beef, tomatoes, and tomato paste; simmer, stirring often, 10 minutes. Pour beef mixture over cornmeal crust. Sprinkle with remaining 3/4 cup cheese.

Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until bubbly.

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