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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Baby, It's Cold Outside

It is cold here.  Like, zero is the day's high temperature kind of cold.  The car protests when left outside at work, even David occasionally thinks it's too cold to go ski and everyone's skin seems perpetually chapped.

Then I talked to an opposing attorney in Fairbanks yesterday, and he informed me that it was 35 below.  In the middle of the day.  Talk about perspective.

Although I'm continuing to eat (mostly) healthy, I am really craving warm, hearty comfort food at night.  Not in huge portions, and not made with a stick of butter, but comfort food nevertheless.

When we made the Tuscan Chicken on Sunday night, I made a big pot of rosemary-scented polenta to go with it.  We've been continuing to eat the polenta with the leftover roast chicken, but last night I really wanted a little red meat, preferably in a red wine sauce, to go over the polenta.  I made kebabs of sirloin and braised pearl onions that were ridiculously good, and went together so fast that it didn't even occur to me to take more pictures.

The pearl onions can be either fresh or jarred.  When I went to the store last night, the fresh pearl onions were looking a little sad.  I think the same four bags had been sitting there for a while, so I went with the jarred.  If you use the jarred, I recommend rinsing and drying them before browning. 

Beef and Braised Onion Kebabs with Red Wine Jus
Inspired by a Recipe from

30 small pearl onions, jarred
1/2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 tbsp. fresh-ground black pepper
1.5 tsp. rosemary, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Pinch of kosher salt
1/2 lb. sirloin steak, trimmed of fat and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 cup dry red wine

Rinse the pearl onions in a colander.  In a medium skillet, melt the butter over medium heat and add the onions.  Cook for about three minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions brown lightly.  Add the salt and pepper, cover the onions with water and turn the heat to low.  Cook for another 15 minutes.

While the onions are cooking, toss the beef cubes with the olive oil, rosemary and garlic and set aside to marinate. 

When the onions are cooked, remove them from the heat and separate the onions from the cooking liquid.  Reserve the liquid in the skillet and allow the onions to cool.

When the onions are cooled, string the beef cubes and onions on either metal skewers or soaked bamboo skewers.  The recipe is enough to make about six kebabs.

Preheat the broiler to high and place the skewers on a cookie sheet sprayed with nonstick spray. 

Return the onion cooking liquid to the stove.  On medium heat, add the residual marinade from the beef and the cup of wine.  Heat to a simmer.

Broil the kebabs for two to four minutes;  they do not need to be turned.  Three minutes resulted in a nice medium-rare kebab.

Serves two;  serve with polenta and drizzle with the wine sauce.

Rosemary-scented Polenta
Adapted from Gourmet Magazine, January 2009

6 cups water
1.5 cups polenta
1 tsp. sea salt
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
3/4 cup cheese, finely shredded*
2 tsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
Fresh-ground pepper to taste

In a medium saucepan, bring the polenta, water, rosemary and salt to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer the mixture uncovered for approximately twenty minutes.  Stir frequently with a long-handled spoon, because it will want to stick to the bottom of the pot.

Remove the pan from the when the polenta is tender but not mushy and all the water has been absorbed.  Stir in the butter and cheese and add fresh-ground pepper to taste.  Makes enough polenta for four to six people, or enough for two with lots of leftovers.

*Be creative with the cheese, although I'd recommend using a harder cheese.  I used an aged cow's-milk cheese from New Jersey called Pawlet that my brother-in-law sent us, but a good Parmesan or Pecorino would work too.


  1. I much prefer kebabs over a big steak because you can get some healthy chunks of veggies on those skewers between the beef. Yours do look delicious and an even amount of veggie to beef ratio. Tasty post!

  2. These sound great and I love polenta. What a great meal for when it's cold out.

  3. I love the idea pearl onion and beef cube on skewer,its work together,good food for cold weather too,looks yummy :)

  4. It's cold in Cleveland, too, but I have a feeling I can't compete ;) These look fantastic, I love that you used pearl onions. The jus must be a great complement.

  5. Kiri, my husband's family is from Cleveland and I have been there in the winter. It's a different kind of cold, but equally nasty!

  6. Tomorrow's high is zero. I hear you. I've been stirring risotto - although that polenta is also calling. I crave hearty. The salads are not doing it. There's something about beef, isn't there? I love the kebabs - just wishing I could throw them on the grill.

  7. Ooo these look fantastic! Love the flavors! :)

  8. It's ridiculously warm here in Georgia this year, but I'm still craving warm hearty stuff! I always seem to head for pot roast and beef stew.

  9. Yum, this looks delish, love the polenta with rosemary!

  10. These look absolutely amazing - but WOW it's crazy cold where you are! I'm living in Florida and complaining about the weather at 60F!

  11. The weather over here is killing with heat and seems like at time the air-cond is not good enough. We are all dripping with sweat now and drinking plenty of water.

    I seldom make polenta and after seeing your sharing, I want to because it got me curious. Because we eat rice most of the time, I suppose thats why polenta does not hit the mind. Awesome that you have combined in the rosemary and btw, I am trying to grow the rosemary in my garden. So far so good and hoping it will remain that way.

  12. This looks absolutely divine! I must agree with you on the needing to eat weather appropriate food! Isn't it ironic that come January, we feel the need to detox after the Christmas excess, yet Jan & Feb are always the coldest months when you need something more substantial! Go figure!
    I'll be back for more of your stuff! xx

  13. I really must give you credit... you went to work and to the market in this cold!! I would be in my house eating soup and not budging from under a layer of blankets. Wow...I have always wanted to visit Alaska... in SUMMER! You are one brave lady! Kudos to you. I totally agree that hearty and comforting are a must on the menu when it's cold so you have done a fabulous job with these kebabs! I must cook with rosemary... I don't think I have before. It's on my list the next time I go to the grocery store. :) Stay warm my friend!! :)

  14. I'm afraid Seattle isn't that cold, but it's pretty darn snowy around here. Definitely shuts things down. I have to try your polenta. The rosemary sounds lovely. Stay warm!

  15. I love kebabs, I think they are such a perfect dinner for the winter or summer! Nicely done!

  16. Omg my parents would be all over this. They literally love everything on that kebab. As for me, I would love some of the polenta!

  17. Both of these dishes are right up my alley! So savory and yummy.

  18. I love kebabs and we make them very often. They look very juicy and tasty especially over the polenta bed!

  19. These look so good!I don't eat beef, but I guess I could use lamb instead.Never made polenta, but looks like I'm missing out on a good substitute for rice :)

  20. Whoa! That's so cold! I wonder if I can survive there. =P Here it's around 50Fs and everyone is saying it's so cold. You will probably laugh at us. your kebabs looks yum!

  21. You can definitely keep the cold, especially that kind of cold! Below 20 F and I'm a crispy critters. Polenta is definitely a great way to warm up. I love your rosemary scented polenta. I'm going to have to try that one. You kabobs sound fabulous as well. Stay warm my friend!

  22. These do look good and you have just inspired me to make some rosemary and onion risotto for dinner.

  23. Oh yum! That polenta looks fantastic and the recipe is so simple. I have to admit that I haven't personally had much luck with polenta. It always comes out like a tasteless blob. But, I love rosemary, so maybe I'll give it a-go again with this recipe. Thanks for sharing and making me crave kebobs for dinner ;P

  24. I love to make kebabs, they are great on the grill here in SUNNY WARM FLORIDA.....let's see, today's high 82 degrees. Gordy is not a huge fan of polenta, but I may have to sneak your recipe into a meal soon.

  25. Good foods to keep you warm,I love kebab and the red wine juice sauce sound,,,YummY,BTW talk about red-wine,,,that the way I explain about my name to my fellow americans if they can't pronounce my name,,,or,,,Reed-one :) LoL,,
    this is the real one,,,Ridwan :)