A punch in the heart: spicy cheesy polenta with chorizo

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Cat asked me for “a a recipe full of fat and other things generally not thought good for you” and I replied, “Surely you jest.” Readers of this space know that’s practically all I cook. If you want roasted kale, lightly flavored with wheat-free shoyu, go elsewhere.

I created this at the request of my husband, who basically wanted exactly what Cat asked for. It’s actually a cut-down version of my Mexican Casserole. Rich, mi esposo, likes this polenta because it satisfies the rules of the Pure Food League, of which he is a charter member.

When I first made it, all I had was plain old yellow corn meal. You can do fine with that, or use fancy-schmantzy polenta, which is the same thing, unless you buy Bob’s Red Mill. I am disappointed in Bob’s Red Mill Polenta because it has big chunks of cracked corn in amongst the ground corn, and those chunks don’t cook up uniformly, which is against my own Pure Food League rule: comfort food should not have surprises, such as large crunchy chonks of undercooked dried corn in your porridge. Your mileage may vary.

Anyway this is a very fast casserole, just dumb easy.

Spicy cheesy polenta with chorizo

1 cup yellow corn meal
2 cups stock or water (I used chicken and duck stock, which I had on hand)

Boil the stock in a 2-quart saucepan. Whisk in the corn meal a bit at a time to make sure it doesn’t clump. Stir thoroughly. Turn the heat down to simmer. Cover.

While the polenta is cooking up, grease a casserole dish with olive oil. I like a full-flavored manzanilla olive oil like Goya.

Preheat the oven to anywhere between 350 and 400 Fahrenheit.

Open a bag of pre-shredded cheddar cheese. You want 2 cups or more.

Turn the polenta down, because it’s probably cooking too fast. In fact, maybe stir it slowly with your whisk, and see if it’s sticking on the bottom of the pot. If the stuck-on stuff comes up readly, good. If it doesn’t, also good. Cover it again and, if you can, turn the heat lower.

La Preferida no picante chorizoPut 8 to 16 ounces of chorizo in a bowl. (I like spicy chorizo but you don’t have to live dangerously if you don’t want to.) Cover the bowl with a plate, set the bowl on top of another plate, and microwave on high for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the chorizo is cooked and the red watery-greasy goop is rendered out. KEEP THE GOOP. Careful, it’s hot. That’s why the plate under the bowl. Also, it’ll try to spit chorizo juice all over the inside of your microwave oven, which is why the plate on top.

Stir the polenta again about now.

Turn the chorizo with goop into the oiled casserole dish. Break it up with a fork. You will find that the goop is absorbed back up into the flaked cooked chorizo. This is as it should be.

Take the polenta off the stove, uncover, and stir in a few handsful of the shredded cheese. It will begin to melt right away. Good! Keep putting in cheese until you feel guilty.

Pour the cheesy polenta over the chorizo in the casserole dish. Sprinkle more cheese on top. Bake at 350 to 400 (your convenience) until bubbly, and the top is brownish and crusty.

Eat.

This warms up nicely. The cheese makes a very thin crackly crust, like the crust on crème brûlée, only not sweet. The chorizo greasy-watery goop has soaked up the sides of the casserole and flavored the outside of the polenta, but not its pure sweet golden cheesy heart.  Enjoy the contrasts between the pure polenta, the ass-kicking chorizo, and the red-stained mixture in between.

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The Hinky Brass Bed by Jennifer StevensonThis book, like the recipe above, is not necessarily good for you, but it will soothe you when times are rough. Can’t face the news? Dodging social media? Already watched “Bachelor Party 2” twice this week? Searching for that high-calorie comfort food for your brain that takes you far, far away from your Covid-lockdown world?

It’s free. Right now. I’m thinking of raising the price.

Jennifer Stevenson

Jennifer Stevenson's Trash Sex Magic was shortlisted for the Locus First Fantasy Novel Award and longlisted for the Nebula two years running. Try her fantasy series Hinky Chicago, which is up to five novels, her paranormal romances Slacker Demons, which are about retired deities who find work as incubi, or her women's fiction fantasy series Coed Demon Sluts, about women solving life's ordinary problems by becoming succubi. She has published more than 20 short stories.

Find Jennifer at the Book View Cafe blog, at the second row at fast roller derby bouts in Chicago, or on Facebook.

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