Tonight's Dinner: Braised Beef Over Butternut Squash Polenta

Eating the same foods over and over again can get pretty boring. Lately, we've been going through a bit of a boring stretch with food, sticking with favorite old standbys. And it shows. I have gotten bored with eating. So today, I decided to make something different, something I haven't had in a long while: Braised Beef over Butternut Squash Polenta, a recipe I found in Diabetic Living magazine.

The recipe:

2 pounds boneless beef chuck
4 teaspoons olive oil
2 stalks celery, cut into pieces
2 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
1/2 cup coarsely chopped onion
1/2 of medium turnip, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
1/2 small rutabaga, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
1/2 cup dry red wine or reduced-sodium beef broth
1 1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary
1 cup lower-sodium beef broth
2 teaspoons Kitchen Bouquet (or other browning sauce)
1/3 cup fat-free milk
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup water
5 ounces frozen butternut squash, thawed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup cold water
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Option: Fresh Parsley Leaves

Preheat oven to 325F (162.778C). If you're not using precut meat, cut the meat into 1 1/2 inch pieces. Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in 4 quart Dutch oven, cooking half the meat at a time until browned while stirring often. Remove meat.

Add the next two tablespoons of oil to Dutch oven and cook all vegetables in pot for about 5-7 minutes or until vegetables start to brown. Remove from heat, stir in wine, rosemary, and 1 1/2 cups water, broth, and Kitchen Bouquet. Cook over medium heat until boiling, stirring to scrape browned bits from bottom.

Now, I have to admit that I did not completely follow the directions. I couldn't get any rutabagas, so I increased the number of turnips (they're related, so I don't think that's a big deal). I also didn't have enough beef -- I had only 1 pound, 2 ounces of beef, so I added an additional 10 ounces of low fat Italian turkey sausage. I had no idea how it would work, but it certainly would add some flavor.

Return meat to Dutch oven. Bake, covered, for about 2 hours or until meat is tender.

About half hour before the meat and vegetables are ready to come out, start the polenta. In a medium saucepan, combine milk and 1/4 cup water, bring to boil. In medium bowl, combine 1 cup cold water and cornmeal, stirring. Slowly add cornmeal to boiling milk, reduce heat to medium low. Stir in squash, salt, and pepper, cooking 25-30 minutes or until mixture is very thick and soft, stirring often and adjusting heat to maintain slow boil.

Stir the 1/4 cup cold water and flour, adding to meat. Cook and stir over medium heat on stovetop until thickened and bubbly.

To serve: Spoon polenta into shallow serving bowls, top with meat and vegetables, sprinkling with parsley if desired.

1/3 cup of polenta and 1 cup meat-vegetables mixture has 379 calories, 11g total fat, 31g carbohydrates (4g of fiber!), and 36g protein.

I went a little light on the meat, as I usually have only 3 ounces of meat at dinner, but otherwise, this is what the meal looks like. It's definitely not your run-of-the-mill stew and I really enjoyed it. It's a bit more labor intensive than some of the other meals I've made here, but if you're bored of standard winter fare, this is definitely a recipe to try!

View more photos at my blog

Hmm, the photo I wanted to put in the post didn't show up. So here it is:

yumm looks good