Friday, March 20, 2009

Kale and Mushrooms with Polenta: Temptation

Things I was tempted to do for today’s post, but ultimately resisted:

1) Inspired by the most recent episode of 30 Rock, I wanted to put up several pictures of a young Alec Baldwin. Because, really, have you SEEN that guy in his twenties? He made Brad Pitt look like Ernest Borgnine after a chainsaw accident.

2) Comment on this AV Club piece about the music you just can’t listen to anymore, “because of the memories you associate with them.” For me, it’s Jeff Buckley. My friend H turned me on to him back in 1995, a full decade before “Hallelujah” popped up on The O.C. or American Idol. Grace was a perfect album for a perfect time, and now he’s dead and his music isn’t my special secret anymore. Don’t get me wrong - the specialness isn’t totally gone (his voice continues to be a space-and-time-stopper), but it’s diminished a bit. Or maybe I’m just old and cranky.

3) Post a link to Jamie Foxx’s new video, if only because director Ron Howard makes several prominent appearances. I gotta admit, I never thought I’d see Opie rolling with T-Pain and a bottle of Cristal.

4) Discuss my wedgie. It’s epic.

5) Apologize for discussing my wedgie. This is a food blog, for pete’s sake. We have to maintain a modicum of class around here.

6) But seriously, it’s huge.

7) Lament Binghamton’s quick exit from the NCAA tournament. Though I went to a rival SUNY (State University of New York) and was not aware we had sports, it’s nice to see public school kids represent.

8) Write a poem about Kale and Mushrooms with Creamy Polenta, a recipe from Epicurious/Bon Appetit found via Serious Eats. It would go like this:

Flavored by bacon and milk and butter,
and enough lemon to make my tongue flutter,
is a dish so creamy, substantial, and great,
I want to ask it out on a date.

Alas, the dinner is food and not people
or in three years, we’d be found in a steeple
saying our vows and planning a life
together as Kale with Mushrooms and wife.

But anyway back to the task at my hand,
describing this dinner, so pleasant and grand.
No side dishes needed, I swear and it’s true:
This should feed about three, including you.

The price is a pittance, when you take in the taste,
and I promise, there’ll be no barfing or waste.
For when you are asked, “hey hon, what is shakin?”
You can say: “It’s veggies! With corn stuff and bacon!”


Anyway, that’s what I was tempted to do with today’s post. But I’m not gonna do any of them. Instead I’m just gonna list the recipe and its picture. (And tell you not to skip out on the lemon zest. It’s vital.)


Kale and Mushrooms with Creamy Polenta
Serves 3
Adapted from Nick at Serious Eats who adapted it from Epicurious/Bon Appetit

1/2 pound kale, stemmed and roughly chopped
2 cups 2 % milk
1 3/4 cups water
1 cup polenta
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 slices bacon, chopped
2 ounces mushrooms
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
1/2 tablespoon grated lemon zest (about 2 medium large lemons)
1-1/2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Salt and pepper to taste

1) In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat milk, water, polenta, salt, and pepper over medium heat, whisking frequently/almost the whole time. Once it simmers, drop heat to medium-low. Cook 15 or 20 minutes, until it's thickened and polenta-like, stirring occasionally.

2) While this is happening, fill a medium pot with water. Set it on high heat and boil. Once it's boiling, add kale. Cook 5 or 6 minutes, until wilted. Drain. Set aside. (Note: Several people suggested sautéing the kale with the mushrooms, thus skipping the boiling process. I haven’t tried it, but it should work.)

3) In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium-high heat. Cook until crisp, stirring frequently. Take bacon out of pan and set aside on a plate. Add mushrooms to pan. Saute about 6 minutes, until they're pretty much cooked. Add kale, bacon, garlic, and broth to skillet. Boil it for about 5 minutes, so it reduces. Kill the heat. Stir in thyme, lemon zest, and salt and pepper to taste.

4) Go back to the polenta pot. Add butter and parm. Stir. When both are thoroughly incorporated, scoop some polenta into a bowl or on a plate. Add a heap of the mushroom/kale mixture. Serve. Rejoice.

Approximate Calories, Fat, and Price Per Serving
435 calories, 16.6 g fat, $1.72

1/2 pound kale, stemmed and roughly chopped: 114 calories, 1.6 g fat, $0.99
2 cups 2 % milk: 245 calories, 9.8 g fat, $0.49
1 3/4 cups water: negligible calories and fat, FREE
1 cup polenta: 505 calories, 2.3 g fat, $0.99
1/4 teaspoon salt: negligible calories and fat, $0.01
1/2 teaspoon black pepper: negligible calories and fat, $0.01
2 slices bacon, chopped: 122 calories, 9.4 g fat, $0.35
2 ounces mushrooms: 12 calories, 0.2 g fat, $0.33
1 garlic clove, minced: 4 calories, 0 g fat, $0.04
1/4 cup chicken broth: 4 calories, 0 g fat, $0.08
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped: 2 calories, 0 g fat, $0.22
1/2 tablespoon grated lemon zest (about 2 medium large lemons): 1 calorie, 0 g fat, $0.60
1-1/2 tablespoons butter: 151 calories, 16.9 g fat, $0.13
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated: 144 calories, 9.5 g fat, $0.91
Salt and pepper to taste: negligible calories and fat, $0.01
TOTAL: 1304 calories, 49.7 g fat, $5.16
PER SERVING (TOTAL/3): 435 calories, 16.6 g fat, $1.72

(Alec Baldwin photo courtesy of Doodad Kind of Town.)


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