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Grilled Polenta with Red Chile Sauce & Black Beans
From: Karen C. Greenlee

This is a loooong recipe, but it doesn't sound too difficult.

Recipe By: The Natural Cafe in Santa Fe; Serving Size: 6


  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 1/2 cups stone ground yellow cornmeal
  • 3 cups cold water
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 3/4 cups cold water
  • 2 tablespoons margarine -- melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon olive oil for grilling
  • Red Chile Sauce:
  • 5 cloves garlic -- pressed
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup ground New Mexico red chile
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable stock or water*
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons margarine
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
Black Beans:
  • 2 cups dried black beans -- sorted and washed
  • 5 cups to 7 cups water
  • 2 cloves garlic -- minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon peeled and grated fresh ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon New Mexico red chile
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • pinch nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
For Polenta: Oil a 4x8 loaf pan with the 1 tsp. olive oil. Set aside.

Toast the cornmeal over medium heat in a heavy skillet until it is fragrant but not browned. Immediately pour the cornmeal into a bowl and let cool.

In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring the 3 cups water and the salt to a boil. Whisk together the cooled cornmeal and the 2 3/4 cups water. Pour this mxture into the boiling water, stirring constantly. When the polenta begins to boil, cover the pot and reduce the heat to low. Cook the polenta until it is vey thick and soft, about 45-55 minutes.

Stir in the melted margarine, then spoon the polenta into the oiled pan, pressing it down firmly into the pan using either your hand or a sppon dipped in cold water. Sprinkle on the 1/2 tsp. olive oil and rub it over the surface of the polenta. Let the polenta cool, then cover it with waxed paper or plastic wrap and store in refrigerator until ready to grill. Can keep in refrigerator for up to 2 days.

To grill the polenta, invert the pan onto a cutting board and tap firmly. The polenta may come out the first time but, if not, simply run a knife around the edge of the pan and try again. Slice the polenta into 12 1/2-inch pieces. Rinse or wipe the knife between each cut.

In a heavy skillet over medium-high heat, grill the polenta slices in the 2 to 4 tbsp. oil until golden and crisp on both sides. Serve immediately with Red Chile Sauce and Black Beans.

To prepare Red Chile Sauce:

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, saute the garlic in the olive oil until golden. Add the cornmeal and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the red chile and continue cooking only until fragrant. Do not let the chile brown or the sauce will taste bitter. Remove the pan from the heat and slowly whisk in the stock, then bring the sauce to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat and simmer 10-15 minutes. Add the black pepper, oregano, butter, and salt and simmer until the flavors mingle 5-10 minutes more.

This sauce will keep covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Makes 3 cups.

NOTE: Flavor will be much richer when the sauce is made with vegetable stock instead of water.

To Prepare Black Beans:

Soak the beans in the water overnight before cooking or bring the beans and water to a boil, cook for 5 minutes, then let stand for 1 hour before proceeding.

Cook the beans in a large saucepan or Dutch oven until they are very tender but still whole, about 1 to 2 hours. Make sure beans are done before seasoning them because salt will inhibit further softening.

Add remaining ingredients to the cooked beans and stir well.