Polenta: The “side” with many sides! [UPDATED]Published 8:04am Thursday, December 15, 2011 Updated 8:05am Thursday, December 15, 2011
I just love a side dish that can play many different roles AND is freezable for later use as well. This polenta recipe serves all those purposes.
4 T. butter
2 T. olive or canola oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4-1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (to your taste)
1 tsp. fresh rosemary, minced (or 1/2 tsp. dried)
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 cup half and half
1 cup milk
1 cup coarse grits or cornmeal (I prefer grits)
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese
Add the butter and oil to a large saucepan. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, rosemary, salt and pepper and saute for one minute. Add the stock, half and half and milk then bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and slowly sprinkle the grits/cornmeal into the hot mixture while stirring constantly with a whisk. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for about 5-7 minutes, until thickened and bubbly. Off the heat, stir in the cheese. Pour into an 8” X 8” X 2” pan, smooth the top, and refrigerate until firm and cold.
Cut the chilled polenta into 9 squares, as you would cake. Take each one out with a spatula and cut diagonally into triangles. Coat each triangle lightly in flour. Heat 1 T. olive oil and 1 T. butter in a large saute pan and fry the triangles in batches over medium heat for about 5 minutes, turning once, until brown on the outside, slightly crispy and heated through. Add more butter and oil, if needed. Serve as a side dish for any meal.
Serving suggestions for fried polenta: freshly grated cheese, any sauce depending on your meal (red meat, alfredo, bbq, sauteed mushrooms), fry an egg and drop it on top, use it as a base for a salad, topping it with mixed greens and a viniagrette — endless possibilities! In the second photo you’ll see where I served it with Italian sausage, marinara sauce, fresh basil and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
Freezing: If you are going to freeze some for later use, leave in squares and cut into triangles when you thaw them. Just put waxed/parchment paper between the squares and then into a freezer bag. Thaw before use and prepare as above.