Tuesday, January 26, 2016

"Pizza Polenta" with Creamy Parmesan Polenta, Homemade Brown Butter Rainbow Baby Heirloom Tomato Sauce, Crispy Pepperoni, a Drizzle of Gremolata Pesto, Burrata, + Fresh Basil

Okay, so I promised a couple days ago to feature a recipe that uses my favorite go-to Homemade Brown Butter Rainbow Baby Heirloom Tomato Sauce as a main component. And well, I think y'all are gonna really love this one because we sure did! Now the whole concept of this dish is to make a hearty bowl of polenta that tastes like a slice of fancy pizza. It starts with a big ole serving of my creamy parmesan polenta. This polenta is so versatile that you can eat it at breakfast, lunch, or dinner. We make it at least once a week, it's that good. Anyway, on top of that dreamy porridge pillow comes a few ladles of that tomato sauce I've been raving about lately. The sauce has that perfect bite of acidity and sweetness that the tomato lends to the meal as a whole. Then comes the crispy pepperoni, which has texture. Now, I don't want y'all to go out and buy slices of pepperoni and just throw it on there because that just won't do. Go to the store, grab a log of pepperoni, and cut it into thick cubes, toss it into a skillet with a little bit of butter, and crisp it up until it has a gorgeous char to it. Next, I came up with a little mash-up of what I like to call "Gremolata Pesto", which is just mix of all of the ingredients from a traditional gremolata and a classic pesto. I have always loved the lemon zest that goes in a gremolata, it brings such brightness to any dish to put it on. And this condiment does just that in such a considerably rich recipe. I can't wait to drizzle it on my next homemade pizza or over some spaghetti + meatballs. Lastly and most importantly, like any good piece of pizza, you need some good mozzarella. Now, not any kind of mozzarella would do, so I quickly grabbed some Burrata while I was at the store. When you plop one of those ever-so-creamy Burrata balls into the center of the piping hot parmesan polenta and tomato sauce, the heat begins to melt the thin layer of cheese on the outside and the heavenly filling will begin to ooze out into the bowl. You meet heaven, heaven greets you and welcomes you inside, you can die happy now, rest assured. Garnish the dish with some fresh basil and a sprinkling of red pepper flakes, and this bad boy is ready to go. I know y'all will enjoy this bowl of goodness just as much as we did!! Enjoy :)

Oh you know you want a bite of this...
For the Parmesan Polenta:
4C Unsalted Chicken Stock (Homemade or Store-Bought)
2 Large Cloves of Garlic, Minced
1C Stone-Ground Cornmeal
1T Kosher Salt + 1t Fresh Cracked Pepper
1C Freshly Grated Parmesan
4oz Creamy Fontina Cheese, Shredded
¼C Crème Fraiche or Sour Cream
4T Unsalted Butter
¼-½C Heavy Cream or Milk (to thin it out to your desired thickness)

For the Gremolata Pesto:
1 Small Bunch of Fresh Parsley
1 Small Bunch of Fresh Basil
2 Cloves of Garlic, Minced into a Paste (with a little fleur de sel)
2 Organic Lemons, Zested
½C Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
½C Walnuts, Finely Minced
Kosher Salt + Fresh Cracked Pepper, To Taste
1T White Balsamic Reduction (honey may be substituted)

For the Pizza Polenta:
Prepared Parmesan Polenta
1 Batch of Homemade Brown Butter Baby Heirloom Tomato Sauce, Warm
8oz Pepperoni, Cut into Cubes & Cooked until Crispy
Prepared Gremolata Pesto, For Drizzling
Balls of Burrata
Fresh Basil, For Garnishing
Red Pepper Flakes, For Sprinkling

1. For the Parmesan Polenta: In a large pot, pour in the chicken stock and add in the minced garlic. Cook over medium-high heat until the stock comes to a boil. Reduce to heat to medium-low and very slowly whisk in the cornmeal, whisking constantly to make sure there are no lumps. Switch to a wooden spoon and add in kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper. Simmer, while stirring constantly, for 10-12 minutes or until they are thick. Be sure to scrape the bottom of the pan thoroughly while you’re stirring. Move the pan off the heat and mix in the freshly grated Parmesan, shredded fontina cheese, crème fraiche, butter, and fresh herbs. If this mixture becomes to thick (either by overcooking and allowing it to sit too long), stir in some of the heavy cream/milk to loosen it again. Taste for seasonings and serve it immediately.
2. For the Gremolata Pesto: Finely mince the basil, parsley, garlic, and walnuts and place into a small mixing bowl. Using a Microplane, grate the Parmesan cheese and lemon zest in next. Stir in the olive oil and white balsamic reduction. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set it aside until you are ready to drizzle it on top of the dish.
3. In a small sauté pan, heat 1T of butter over medium-low heat. Add in the pepperoni and brown them until they are beginning to crisp up on the outside. This will take about 5-10 minutes. While the pepperoni is cooking, heat up a batch of your homemade Brown Butter Baby Heirloom Tomato Sauce in a small pot.
4. Assembling the Dish: Ladle in a few scoops of the Parmesan Polenta into a serving bowl, followed by some of the tomato sauce, burrata, some of the crispy pepperoni, a drizzle of Gremolata Pesto, chiffonade basil, and red pepper flakes. Serve while the dish is still piping hot!

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