I made this at least once previously and our notes said we loved it, so I decided to make it again. The bean salad is also perfectly beautiful! It’s a lot of work, but of course, I made it harder by cooking the beans from dry instead of using a can, and also grilling and peeling all of my red peppers while I had the grill on, instead of leaving some for later. Neither of which is earthshaking, of course. I think using the Cuisinart do some fine chopping might save some time. This would be about the carrot (one large).
I made a whole recipe of polenta, and about 1 1/3 recipe of beans, since last time we seemed to have a dearth of beans relative to polenta – ran out of beans first, that is. The unmentioned element (so far) is a sauce made by Cuising a moderate clove of garlic (always start with the garlic), then 1/2 cup of cilantro (said “loosely packed” but that was too little, and I added some finely chopped – perhaps 1 Tbsp – after chopping some for the salad), 1 Tbsp of roasted, diced poblano (says hot chile – I love poblanos… could have used more, easily) 1/4 cup each mayonnaise and sour cream, 1/2 tsp Kosher salt, and the juice of one lime (pre-rolled for maximum juiciness).
Polenta: mix 2 cups coarse cornmeal, 6 cups water, 1 tsp Kosher salt, and 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper, in a large saucepan (3 qt worked but was pretty full). Boil 2 minutes, whisking constantly. It’s amazing how the polenta fills out during this brief time and makes one slurry, instead of two phases. Turn down to med-low (“to a simmer”) and add 2 Tbsp unsalted butter and 1/4 cup heavy cream, stirring in completely with a wooden spoon. Cook till tender at a simmer, stirring every 5 mins or so (use a folding stroke when it gets thicker) so it doesn’t scorch. Finally spread 1/2 inch thick and, before it cools, flatten the top with a wooden spoon dipped in water. This spread nicely into two baking pans for our little oven. Watch that the edges are pressed down, so they do not form ridges. Chill 4-24 hours. Cut into desired shapes, brush with oil, and grill 4 mins on a side, on a preheated grill on high. They loosen up when they are done.
The salad: I pre-soaked 1 cup of black beans, picked over and well rinsed, in water to cover generously, boiled 2 minutes, then covered and let stand 1 1/2 hours. These beans are pretty old, and they then cooked (after draining and rinsing) in water to cover for one hour; then I added 1 “cooking carrot” – a purple one from the Grand Lake market awhile ago – and half an aging red onion from the fridge cut into thirds, and kept boiling for what must have been another hour and a half. Maybe 1/2 hr after the veggies, I added 1/4 tsp salt, and when I turned off the heat, finally, I added another 1/4 tsp and stirred in well. They ended up a bit overcooked, but at the bean book says, beans should be overcooked rather than undercooked. I drained them later for perhaps 1/2 hour in a colander. I ended up using the whole batch, which was over 2 cups – perhaps 2 1/2. Added to the beans: 1/2 cup (this is slightly more, proportionately, than called for) finely chopped white onion, 2/3 cup finely diced carrot, 2/3 cup small-dice roasted red pepper (two moderate peppers), juice of about 1 1/3 pre-rolled and juicy limes, 1/cup EV olive oil, 2/3 tsp Kosher salt, 1/3 tsp freshly ground black pepper, 1/3 tsp cumin, and 1/3 cup finely chopped cilantro leaves.
We had a new wine that we got in the morning at Costco, a Minervois from Gerard Bertrand (2008; Syrah/Carignan). We liked it but weren’t excited about it, and want to see what the other 1/3 is like after being in its small bottle oxidizing a bit. It was more interesting after being opened longer. Also, it might well like another meal better.
For lunch D made a fresh salsa, with tomatoes, tomatillos, scallions, garlic, a hot pepper… can’t remember all now (adding this the 30th!). We made nachos by broiling cheese over chips (great huge cheap bag from Costco) and then added the salsa and avocado. I also found some Mexican Coke at Costco, which we bought to see how different it was. Answer: not much, but it was fun to have good ol’ glass bottles again.