Thursday, January 01, 2009

Sautéed Butternut over Jalapeño-Wine-Cheese Grits

Here's a combination I developed for a demonstration of "local food" at the Athens Farmers Market in early September. It used primarily ingredients for sale at the Market that day, and donated by the various farmers. Now in the depths of winter, the produce will be coming in from California and Mexico, but the dish makes a hearty, yet economical, cold-weather dinner for the new year.

The grits, preferably stone-ground, are treated like polenta. The sauté, while with American ingredients, is suggestive of Italian cooking.

Prepare the grits first, and keep them warm while sautéing the butternut. The recipes serve six people. A medium-bodied dry red wine, such as a Merlot, Pinot Noir, or Spanish red would accompany this well.

Jalapeño-Wine-Cheese Grits
1 cup milk
3 cups water
1 cup stone-ground grits (Georgia, and yellow, preferred)
1/2 cup white wine
1 small jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
3/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1/8 teaspoon grated black pepper
2 tablespoons grated Romano or Parmesan cheese

In heavy pan, bring milk and water to boil, being careful not to boil over. Stirring constantly with wooden spoon or spatula, add grits in a small stream. Reduce heat to medium, and continue to stir frequently as grits begin to thicken, 4 to 5 minutes. Add wine, minced jalapeño, salt, and pepper. Reduce heat to the lowest, cover pot and simmer, stirring occasionally, until grits are becoming tender, 20 minutes or more depending on the variety used. Stir in cheese. Taste, and add a little salt if necessary. Continue to simmer (or place pot in a larger pan with an inch of boiling water to serve as hot water bath as they simmer) until ready to serve, stirring from time to time. The longer the grits simmer the better. If the grits thicken too much, add a little water. Do a final taste and adjust salt, if necessary, before serving.

Sautéed Butternut
1 medium butternut squash, about 2 pounds
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 small-medium green bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 very large clove garlic, minced
1 small jalapeño, seeded and minced
2 large tomatoes, cored and coarsely chopped (or 1 cup drained canned diced tomatoes)
3/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup white wine
6 medium-large fresh basil leaves, cut in half
2 tablespoons grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
A little more grated cheese, or minced parsley, for serving

Peel butternut, and cut into 3/4-inch slices, scooping out the seed cavity. Cut flesh into 3/4-inch chunks. Fry (sauté) these gently in large pan with olive oil, stirring frequently. Meanwhile prep the other vegetables as indicated, keeping tomato separate.

When butternut is starting to become tender (test with a toothpick), add onion, bell pepper, garlic, and jalapeño. Add salt and pepper, and sauté mixture, stirring frequently and scraping bottom of pan, until bell pepper and onion become tender. Stir in chopped tomatoes and sauté about 2 minutes, stirring carefully several times. Add wine and sauté briefly until all vegetables are tender. The mixture should be slightly wet. If not, add a little water to moisten. Taste several bits of vegetable and stir in a little salt, if needed. Remove from heat, and stir in basil and grated cheese.

To Serve
Spread a portion of grits on a plate. Spoon some butternut mixture over it. Sprinkle with either a little grated cheese or minced parsley.


Anonymous Andree Terry said...

Thanks so much for taking the time to make a table of contents! I took a class from you at the Rolling Pin and am enjoying making those dishes and the others you have included here and now in the
Andree Terry

4:55 AM  
Blogger Tim Dondero said...

Andree: Thanks for your kind comments. I'm glad you find the table of contents useful. I'm afraid the blog format, while useful for getting current things out, like political commentary, easily hides earlier things. That's why I got the table of contents in and update it and move it to a more recent position whenever I add a recipe. Tim

7:59 AM  

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