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Santa Barbara, CA, United States
I enjoy creating original wine-pairing recipes that are healthful and delicious. I work for Touring & Tasting a Santa Barbara based wine club and national magazine as Food Editor. However, I am not paid for this blog and the opinions expressed here are strictly my own. I received my Personal Chef Skills Competency Award from the SBCC's School Of Culinary Arts. In 2012, I started Inside Wine - Santa Barbara with pal Lila Brown which features wine tastings with winery owners and winemakers. I also serve on the Board of the Santa Barbara Culinary Arts group, which had Julia Child as one of the founding members and funds scholarships for SBCC culinary students in her name.

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Creamy Polenta Tamale Casserole

What do you make when you have homemade chile sauce already made and your heart set on enchiladas, but you open your frig and find you have no tortillas? I made this casserole with creamy polenta and it was delish. We had a couple of Napa wines to try: Rocca Family Vineyards 2007 Merlot and the 2008 Vespera. Both were good. I preferred the fruitiness of the Merlot with the spiciness of this dish, but the Vespera's chocolately smoothness would be my preferred sipping wine.

Creamy Polenta Tamale Casserole: 
Ingredients:4 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. flour
2 cup milk
1 cup cornmeal
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 shallot, minced about 1/2 cup
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 sausages, sliced--either vegetarian or pork sausage
1 cup corn kernels, fresh or canned
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
2 cups red chile sauce or red enchilada sauce
2 cups grated sharp cheddar
*optional: finely minced parsley

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter, add flour and cook over low heat for a couple of minutes. Do not let it brown. Add the milk and cornmeal and cook until thickened, stirring occasionally. Set aside. Coat the bottom of a saucepan with oil and sweat (cook without browning) the shallot and garlic over low heat. Add the sausage, corn, celery, and bell pepper. Continue cooking for another five minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the red chile sauce, stir, then pour into the bottom of an 8" round casserole. Using a spatula, spread the mixture evenly across the bottom of the dish. Stir the cornmeal, if it is not liquid enough to pour easily, add enough water, mixing thoroughly to make it pourable without being runny. Pour over the vegetable mixture and smooth with the spatula. Sprinkle with the cheese and bake for 40 minutes. Sprinkle each portion with parsley, if desired. Serves 4.

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