Thursday, January 27, 2011

Versatile Little Cake of Old World Comfort

What could it be? POLENTA.
What is Polenta? Polenta is simply a cornmeal mush. Better defined in Wikipedia as " a dish made from boiled cornmeal." For me it is a delightful and sooo versatile little instrument for delivering a wonder of sauces.
Polenta is essentially a "finely ground cornmeal" added to boiling water or stock. You can then eat the Polenta immediately as is, or add things like, Butter, Cream, Parmesan cheese...Salt and pepper..etc...
Polenta also can be immediately cooled in a form fitting pan (I use a sheet pan) and refrigerated, so that you later can cut out pieces and use them as vehicles for sauces or stews. Let me Show you...

Polenta Cakes:


6 cups Chicken Stock or Broth
(I always use College Inn and love the New Herb / Wine infused one)

1 3/4  C Yellow Cornmeal
4 Tblsp Butter (1/2 stick
1 tsp Salt
1 Cup Parmesan Cheese


In Heavy Large Saucepan Bring Stock (broth) to Rolling boil.
Add Salt.
Gradually Pour in Polenta.
Wisk constantly to avoid clumping.
Reduce the heat to Low and cook until mixture thickens.(about 15 minutes)
Turn off heat.
Add Parmesan and Butter.
Stir until butter is melted and Parmesan fully incorporated.

Serve warm.

*If making Polenta Cakes :
Pour prepared Polenta into a shallow baking pan 
Refrigerate for 4 hours (min)
Remove from Refrigerator, Cut into Serving pieces.
At this point you have 2 choices.
1. Bake Serving pieces on greased cookie sheet in hot oven 425 until golden brown (30 mins)
2. Fry Polenta cakes in Heavy Saute Pan until golden brown.
I chose the to fry as seen here:
Remove from Oil, drain on paper towel.
Serve your perfectly Golden Brown Polenta Cake as is, Deliciously Crisp!
Or topped with whatever you desire:
As I did, with Chicken & Peppers....Comfort Food Feast!!!
Polenta is a Delivery Vehicle for whatever you'd like.
Feel free to play with it. At it's base, it's an easy fix.
Additions of, roasted peppers, sundried tomatoes, Romano cheese, Gruyere cheese... Are wonderful ways to szhuszh it up. You can even substitute Cinnamon and sugar for the Parmesan cheese and add cinnamon sugar after baked, a Sweet Polenta Cake, oh my goodness wouldn't that be a  Great morning idea!
Just try it! It's Easy!!!