I've grown up eating polenta. It's a really good go-to food that is both cheap and filling (not surprisingly for a food item that has it's roots in gruel and was traditionally considered peasant food [Wikipedia]). So I was intrigued by Becker five-minute polenta rustica (p. 349). Would it really only take 5 minutes? Would it be good?
I melted butter in a saucepan, adding onion and cooking until translucent. I added chicken broth, which I brought to a boil:
I added cornmeal slowly, whisking constantly so that lumps didn't form:
I whisked for five minutes, eventually stirring in Parmesan cheese and salt:
It was surprisingly good! I love polenta and this was a much faster recipe than most. I would much rather stir for 5 minutes than an hour or more. That being said, I didn't think it was quite as good as long simmered polenta but the difference isn't one most people would notice (especially if you haven't eaten your weight in polenta over the years). I will absolutely make this again.
I also made Becker rice and noodle pilaf (p. 355).
I mixed butter, vegetable oil, shallots, fine egg noodles (if you can't find these, look in the Kosher section, that's where they were in our grocery store), and white rice in a skillet and stirred until the noodles were toasted:
I added chicken broth:
I reduced the heat to low, covered, and simmered gently for much more than the recommended 20 minutes:
Like most grain dishes at high altitude, all the water never did get soaked into the rice. And it wasn't until I was finished that I noticed that this recipe makes 10-12 servings. That is a LOT of pilaf for two people. It made a huge amount of pilaf. I'm not a big pilaf fan, I would have been just as happy with a box of Rice-a-Roni. That being said, this was another super easy and cheap recipe.
Both recipes could easily be converted to vegetarian dishes if you used veggie stock rather than chicken stock.