Friday, October 23, 2009

Grits Gratin with Arugula and Bacon

While this didn't look quite how I had imagined it from the name, it was rather tasty. How can you go wrong with bacon, garlic and cheese in a dish? I estimated the amount of arugula I put in (by the handful). If you aren't using baby arugula, be sure to take the stems off and discard. You only want the leaves. I also think you could use as much as 8 cups of arugula. The balsamic vinegar is essential in this recipe. It gives the dish a nice sweet flavor. You can use either grits or polenta (I used polenta). My dish never got "golden and bubbling" like Bittman said it should and I still haven't figured out why, but it didn't make that much of a difference.

How did this go over? Well, M didn't like the polenta but ate the arugula, which surprised me. She informed me that she, "doesn't like to eat Brits." I guess that's good. :) Curtis thought it was wonderful, which is good because he normally doesn't eat polenta. I think I have succesfully found some ways that he'll eat polenta, which is good because I love it. This also is a different way to use up some of that large bag of arugula we got in our boxes this week.

Grits Gratin with Arugula and Bacon
from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman

Grits (or Polenta)
1/2 c milk, preferably whole (but I used skim and it was just fine)
2 c water
large pinch of salt
1 c coarse cornmeal

1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
2 slices thick bacon, chopped (if you are using thin bacon, use more)
3 - 4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 t sugar
4 - 8 c arugula leaves (stems discarded)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Recipe of grits/polenta
1/2 c Parmesan cheese, grated

To make the grits/polenta, bring milk, water and large pinch of salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the cornmeal in a steady stream, whisking constantly to prevent the lumps from forming. Simmer over low heat until mixture is fairly thick (length of time will depend on type of cornmeal or polenta you are using--I used quick polenta and it only took a couple of minutes), stirring frequently. The polenta should be about as thick as thick oatmeal. Press into a loaf pan and let cool at least 10 minutes (or as long as a day). Slice into 1/2" thick slices.

Put 1 T oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped bacon and garlic and cook until bacon is crispy. Turn off the heat and add the arugula. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss gently in the pan. Spread in bottom of a greased shallow 2 quart casserole dish or a 9 x 13" baking pan. Drizzle with the balsamic vinegar. Carefully spread the grits/polenta slices on top of the arugula, overlapping them a little if necessary. Drizzle with 1 - 2 T olive oil (and a little extra balsamic vinegar if you'd like, which I did), sprinkle with salt and pepper, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake in preheated 400 degrees oven until the topping is golden and bubbling (or not), about 20 - 25 minutes. Serve hot.

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