Chili in a Crown

4 cups milk
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons sugar
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1 small can diced green chilies
1 1/2 cups sharp cheese, grated
1 recipe favorite chili (see below)

Basically polenta is a cornmeal mush, seasoned and shaped.

Place about 3 cups milk in heavy saucepan. Add sugar and salt and heat to a boil. DO NOT scorch milk and be careful not to boil milk over. Stir cornmeal into remaining 1 cup milk. When milk in pan is to a boil, stir cornmeal in. Stir and bring back to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and simmer for 10 minutes – stir frequently to avoid scorching. Remove from heat, stir in 1 cup grated cheese and chilies. Place polenta in casserole dish pressing mixture up the sides of dish to form a crown. If polenta is too soft to stay on sides of dish allow it to cool further, as polenta cools it will stiffen up.

Prepare favorite chili recipe or use the recipe below. Place chili in polenta crown. Cover and heat until chili is hot and bubbly (about 30-45 minutes in a 350 degree oven or about 15 minutes on high in microwave). Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cheese and garnish as desired (olives, peppers, chopped fresh tomatoes etc.)
1/2 pound lean ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups cooked dry beans (or 2 15oz cans)
4 cups canned tomatoes (about 2 15 oz cans)
1 tablespoon chili powder – more or less to taste
1 teaspoon cumin – optional to taste
salt and pepper to taste
tomato paste, to thicken (about 3-6 oz)

Brown meat with onion and garlic. Drain excess fat. Add cooked dry beans, tomatoes and seasoning to taste. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 10-15 minutes. Thicken chili with tomato paste to desired consistency.

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