Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Baked Polenta

Polenta is a classic, simple, cornmeal porridge of Italian origin. The traditional method involves a good 30-40 minutes of love and elbow-grease to stand at the stove constantly stirring this thick porridge. Though a few days ago I found myself craving polenta and I stumbled on a recipe for baked polenta in the Joy of Cooking. It almost feels like cheating, but this method makes a darn good polenta!

- Dice half an onion

- Grate some cheese
The original recipe says to use a mixture of 4oz. Gruyere, 4oz. Mozzarella, and 1/2 cup Parmasan. I used maybe 8oz. White Cheddar, though I'm suspicious cheese is not neccessary for this recipe -- make it as cheesey, or not-cheesey, as you like!

- Preheat the oven to 350F

- Butter a 2qt. (9" x 9" -ish) baking dish

Making the Polenta
- Saute the diced onion in some butter in a deep pan.

- Pour 5 cups of liquid over the onions and bring to a boil.
"liquid" could be water, stock, cream/milk, or any combination or 2 or more. I used 4 cups water + 1/2 cup chicken demi-glace + 1/2 cup cream

- Once the liquid is at a rolling boil, slowly pour 1-1/2 cups Yellow Cornmeal into the boiling liquid while stirring with a whisk or wooden spoon.

- Continue to stir for a minute or so until it thickens.

- Throw in a dash of salt (herbs and spices could also be added at this point!)

- Pour the polenta into the pre-buttered pan.
     It can either be poured in all at once, or in two parts, adding cheese after the first part to create a layer of cheese in the middle of the polenta.

- Cover the polenta with cheese, and pour 1/2 cup Milk or Cream on top.

- Put it in the oven for 30-60 minutes until the top is brown and bubbly.

- Let stand for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Leftover polenta can also be sliced and fried the next day to make savory polenta cakes!

Soft Polenta with Pesto and Sauteed Mushrooms & Broccoli

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