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Polenta in Red Wine and Rosemary Broth

Posted Feb 01 2010 8:13am

I know there is nothing especially unusual about simmering tempeh in a sauce of red wine and rosemary, nor is there anything particularly novel about giving beef ribs the same preparation, although admittedly the household - namely, ours - in which both variations simmer in two pots side by side might be a bit out of the ordinary.

Indeed, the reason I share this classic recipe is not because of singular claims to originality, but simply because I am so pleased with how this dish emerged. Polenta rounds, floating delicately in a rich and complex broth, topped with the equally time-honored but still unparalleled combination of tender carrots and celery...

Always the same, cyclical, just as you had imagined... Like coming home...

Polenta in Red Wine and Rosemary Broth

1.5 lbs tempeh, cut into 1" cubes OR 1.5 lb beef short ribs
2 T light vegan marg or butter
3 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/4 cups red wine (I used a Shiraz)
3/4 cup vegetable broth
2 bay leaves
1 sprig rosemary
1 roll prepared polenta, cut into 1/2" slices (approx 16 slices)

~ In a large pot or dutch oven, brown the tempeh cubes or the beef ribs in the marg or butter over medium-high heat, turning to ensure even browning on all sides. You'll likely need to completely the browning in two batches.
~ Remove the tempeh or the ribs from the pot, and add the celery, carrots, onion, and garlic, sauteeing until the vegetables are tender.
~ Add the red wine, broth, bay leaves, and rosemary, and bring the mixture to a boil.
~ Reduce the heat until the mixture is simmering, and return the tempeh or the ribs to the pot. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer until the tempeh is tender and nicely seasoned (approx 45 minutes) or until the ribs are very tender (approx 2 hours), rotating the tempeh or ribs occasionally to ensure even cooking.
~ Towards the end of the cooking process, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.
~ If you're fixing the ribs version, once the cooking is completely, remove the ribs, trim away excess fat, slice the meat into thin strips, and discard the bones. Return the meat to the pot, and reduce the heat to low. If you're using the tempeh version, you can simply skip this step! Season to taste with salt and pepper, and both dishes are now ready to serve...
~ 20 minutes before you want to serve your dish, place your polenta slices on the prepared baking dish, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes - until the tops of the polenta rounds are just beginning to turn golden.
~ To assemble, place 4 to 6 polenta rounds on each plate, and top with a nice balance of tempeh or ribs, veggies, and broth!

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