Lamb chops. Polenta. Tomato sauce. Simple flavors, dramatically delicious.

Keep it simple but indescribably amazing.

I had guests over last week. It was a feast of friends, family, and a big spread of food. One of my friends looked up from his lamb chop and said, "How do you make this taste so good?"

"Salt, pepper, good olive oil. That's it." And so, in that instant, I knew what I wanted to do for this post today. How to cook things that taste like what they are, with minimal fuss. Simple. So, with the ingredients I had on hand from that celebration, I offer you this one.

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A simple ensemble

Creamy polenta

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  • 6 cups water
  • 1-1/2 cups course grain polenta
  • 2 t. Kosher salt

Bring the salted water to a boil, slowly whisk in the polenta, and cook over low heat 15-20 minutes until thickened.

Remove from heat and add:

  • 1/2 cup whole milk at room temperature
  • 1/4 unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan

Seasoning is critical to a great polenta. Taste it as you go, and add kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste.

Serve immediately or reheat gently over low heat.

Parsley oil

  • 1 cup finely minced flat leaf parsley
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 clove (or more to taste) finely minced garlic

Add enough excellent quality olive oil to incorporate and create a loose oil, so don't whisk, just incorporate with a gentle stir. Taste for seasoning. Set aside.

Tomato sauce

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I had bushels of amazing, plump tomatoes, full-on red and perfectly ripe, from the farmers market last week, so I used those by halving 4 pounds of them, then putting them in my large EuroCAST Dutch oven with a 1/4 cup olive oil and enough water to just barely cover.

Over low heat I let them soften 10 minutes, and the skins slid right off.  You should throw away the skins. When you do this with tomatoes, you'll find this is an easy way to start any tomato sauce.

At this point I added:

  • 6 large shallots roughly chopped
  • 7 cloves garlic roughly chopped
  • 7 sprigs of fresh thyme and 2 sprigs fresh oregano tied in a bundle with kitchen twine.
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper

Let simmer gently over low heat for 30-45 minutes. Remove from heat. Remove the herbs (this is why I put them together with twine).

Blitz with immersion blender to create a sauce you desire. I like mine pretty smooth, but with some body, for this dish. You can add a little stock or water if you'd like a looser sauce.

When you're done, put together the plate in the spirit of keeping it simple and no-fuss. With food like this, it's going to look beautiful with no effort.

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5 quart Dutch oven

Although Lisa used her large 7-quart Dutch oven in this recipe, we have an online special for our 5-quart version. It takes up a little less space in the cupboard and on the stove top, but it's deep, and cooks beautifully. As always, made of ceramic and titanium, non-toxic, non-stick, PFOA-free.

Normally $299,99, get it at the link for $199.99.

Paul WardComment