Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Fried Polenta

I had a craving for polenta a few weeks ago, I read a book that had the most wonderful description of it and from that moment on I just wanted it.  I didn’t grow up eating polenta, it wasn’t something that I even tasted until my first real restaurant job and even then I wasn’t a huge fan of “cornmeal mush” but this book described grilled Polenta, all crispy on the outside and creamy inside... and I just had to try it like that.

My first try was a miserable failure.  I didn’t cook it long enough and then I didn’t let it cool nearly as long as I should have so it was still kinda floppy.. And it had no flavor.  So to Foodgawker I went.. And I couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for.. So to Google I went.. And searched through what seemed to be a gazillion recipes and finally I took it upon myself to fiddle around to get just what I wanted.

And I got just that on Sunday afternoon while preparing dinner. (Hey, I’m Italian.. Dinner is a big event on Sunday, even if it’s just me & The Kid.)

Here’s how I did it:

Heat 2 cups water in a saucepan

While the water is heating wisk 1 cup cornmeal into 1 cup of cold water until it’s mixed in well

When the water starts to boil wisk the cornmeal mixture into the boiling water and keep stirring.  (I learned the hard way that if you just plop the dry cornmeal into boiling water you end up with a clumpy disgusting mess and that batch went into the garbage... and I hate wasting food).

I added 1/4 cup grated asiago cheese and 1 Tbs crushed red pepper flakes.

Turn the heat to medium/low and let it bubble, but not really boil and KEEP STIRRING so it doesn’t burn to the bottom of the pan... turn the heat down if you need to.  Now it’s not like risotto where you have to stir it until your arm is breaking, but just keep slowly mixing it to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pot for 6-7 minutes until it’s thick and creamy like paste.

Pour into a greased pan (or, my new love is Reynolds non stick aluminum foil because seriously, nothing sticks to it.)  Smooth it out until it’s in an even layer and put it in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

Cut the cooled polenta into squares and dust with flour.

Heat 2-3 Tbs oil in a pan until hot, but not smoking. (A trick 1 learned to tell if oil is hot enough is to put the end of a wooden spoon into the oil and if it starts to bubble, the oil is hot enough)

Carefully place the polenta slices into the oil and cook 7-9 minutes per side over medium heat.  Don’t touch the polenta while it’s cooking, because if you mess with it, it will stick and fall apart.  Just leave it alone & wash up the dishes, sing a song.. Whatever you need to do to Not touch the polenta in the pan.

Carefully turn over the polenta and cook the other side using the same method as before.

When the other side is cooked to golden brown deliciousness take it out of the pan and drain on paper towels if needed.

I served mine with Slow Cook Down Home Pork Chops and Gravy with roasted Broccoli on the side and it was unbelievably delicious.

I still have half of the polenta I made on Sunday in the fridge, since it was just the Kid & I on Sunday I just cooked enough for us to eat then & saved the rest for later... I'll probably make that tonight with dinner :)