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I try not to cook on Friday and Saturday night. After a week of working and cooking I feel the need for a break. The boys usually have plans that don’t involve their parents anyway so most of the time we try and go out to dinner – alone, which those of you with kids know, is pure luxury. Recently, on one of those out to dinner nights, I ordered something similar to this and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. You know how that happens? As soon as I took my first bite I knew I was going to have to figure out how to make this stuff. In an effort to recreate this dish I searched the internet high and low and here is what I came up with. All my guys loved it and I have a household full of new polenta fans!
Chile Colorado is braised beef that cooks low and slow in a rich tomato, chile sauce until it is fork tender. The Sweet Potato Polenta Cakes are a fantastic accent in both flavor and texture to the tender beef and delicious sauce. This is not a dish to make on a busy day. It’s not difficult but it does take time. Do it on the weekend and you will have an amazing Sunday night supper and if you’re lucky, some yummy leftovers.
The dried chiles add a special depth of flavor to this dish that you just can’t get any other way. They can be found at any Mexican market but many large groceries chains carry them as well. Check your local store. I found these El Guapo brand chiles at Smart and Final.
First you’ll prepare your polenta and divide it evenly into a 12 cup muffin pan. You can do this the day ahead and refrigerate overnight. If you need them quicker, you can put them in the freezer just till firm, about 30-45 minutes.
Now, on to the chiles. Bring them to a boil and turn off the stove and let them soak in the hot water for 30 minutes. In the meantime, you’ll get the beef going in a Dutch oven with the broth, tomato paste, and seasonings.
Once the chiles have softened up you will remove the stems and process them in a food processor with some of the water they cooked in.
Now you have this wonderful, rich chile paste.
Pour the chile paste into a mesh colander over your pot and use a spoon to push it through the mesh and into your pot of simmering beef. Work at it for awhile so you’re sure to get as much of the rich goodness as possible. The seeds and skins of the peppers will remain in the colander. Most of the heat is in the seeds so this will prevent the dish from being over the top hot.
The rest is easy. Just let it simmer, uncovered, on the stove for about 2-1/2 hours or until the meat is fork tender.
Just before you’re ready to serve, fry the polenta cakes in olive oil till browned and crispy.
Now…get working on the margaritas!
The men in my house loved it and I, the sole female, am waiting for another lazy Sunday so I can make it again.
- 5 cups water
- 7 dried New Mexico chilies
- 3 dried California chiles
- 3 dried Ancho chiles
- 1 small yellow onion diced
- 5 garlic cloves minced
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 3 lbs. chuck roast cut into cubes or beef stew meat
- 2 tablespoons ground cumin
- 2 tablespoons dried oregano
- 2 cups beef broth
- 2 – 6oz cans of tomato paste
- Black pepper and sea salt to taste
- Optional garnish - cilantro, avocado, sour cream
Sweet Potato Polenta Cakes
- 1 small sweet potato
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1/2 cup polenta
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- olive oil
- Rinse the dried chiles and place them in a pot with the 5 cups of water. Bring to a boil, turn the heat off and let the chilies soak in the water for 30 minutes.
- While the chiles are soaking, dice your onion and garlic. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven and add the onions. Cook the onions until they just begin to brown. Add the garlic and the beef to the onions and brown the beef for 7-10 minutes. Add the beef broth, tomato paste, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper to the beef. Bring to a boil, turn down to low and let simmer, uncovered.
- While the beef is simmering, it’s time to prepare the peppers. Remove the stems from the peppers and place the peppers in a food processor with half of the liquid that the peppers were boiling in. Pulse the peppers until smooth. Using a sieve or mesh colander, pour the ground peppers through the sieve and into the pot with the beef. Use a spoon to help push the contents through the sieve, leaving behind the seeds and any of bits of pepper skin. Pour the remaining cooking liquid through the colander into the pot. Bring to a boil, turn back down to low and let it simmer, uncovered, for 2 1/2 hours or until your meat is tender.
- Serve with Sweet Potato Polenta Cakes and garnish with avocado, cilantro, and sour cream.
Sweet Potato Polenta Cakes
- Place sweet potato in a pot, covered with water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for about 40 minutes or until fork tender. Remove from water to a bowl and allow to cool. When cool enough to handle, remove skin with a paper towel and discard. Mash the sweet potato with a fork, mix in milk.
- Spray a 12 cup muffin pan with cooking spray.
- Bring the chicken broth to a boil in a medium saucepan. Whisk the polenta and 1/2 teaspoon of salt into the broth and cook over low heat, stirring often, until the polenta thickens, about 15 minutes. Stir in the Parmesan cheese. Remove from the heat, then fold in the sweet potato and mix well to combine.
- Spoon the polenta evenly into the prepared muffin pan. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight, until firm. If needed right away, place in freezer till cold, about 30 to 45 minutes.
- Heat about 1 or 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet. Remove polenta from muffin pan and cook over moderate heat until browned on the bottom, about 3 minutes. Carefully turn the polenta with a metal spatula, and cook another 3 to 5 minutes till browned and slightly crispy.
- Chile Colorado adapted from Everydaypaleo.com