When it comes to making polenta, I have close to no experience. In fact, I have close to no experience with polenta period. I’ve only had it maybe 5 times in my entire life. Or perhaps it was 6. I discovered this delicacy about a year ago, at a restaurant not too far fr0m home. I loved it so much, I almost fell off my chair. I had to go back a few times just for their polenta… until they changed the way they serve it. I didn’t like it. So I tried making it at home. My first try was not very successful. I ended up with a lot of lumps and it was very dry… Tonight’s was a lot better, but still, it wasn’t what I would call creamy. And that is precisely what I love about polenta. The contrast between the creaminess of the interior and the slight crunchiess of the grilled exterior.
Some say you have to cook polenta for like forever. Others say that it’s totally unnecessary, that it won’t make it any creamier. I guess it’s a trial and error thing and once you’ve found a recipe and technique that suits you, then you stick with it. One thing that would make sense to me, however, is that a lot of the creaminess comes from milk, cream, butter and/or parmesan cheese that is often added to the polenta after it’s done cooking. Of course, I don’t want to add any butter or cream or any other kind of fat to my polenta, so I assume I’ll have to settle for a little bit of dryness.
Tonight’s version may not have been decadently rich and creamy, but it was very acceptable nonetheless. Nice and crispy on the exterior, nice and soft on the interior. Definitely what I would call a keeper, although next time I will try cooking it a little bit longer. Unless someone has good tips or suggestions for me, which would be much appreciated, this is the recipe I will be using from now on.
- 4 cups water
- ½ tsp salt
- 175 grams polenta
- about 2 tbsp each: sliced green olives, sliced kalamata, chopped sun dried tomatoes
- 30-40 grams blue cheese, crumbled
- 30 grams toasted walnuts, crushed
- Mixed greens
- Balsamic vinegar
- In large saucepan, bring water and salt to a boil. Add corn meal gradually, whisking continually. Once you have added all the cornmeal, lower the heat, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes, whisking every 2 minutes or so, until the polenta no longer attaches to the sides. Stir in olives and sundried tomatoes.
- Pour polenta in a 8″ cake pan, coated with cooking spray. Press evenly, cover with plastic film and put in the refrigerator until completely chilled.
- Take the polenta out of the pan, cut it into 6 or 8 wedges, then cut each wedge horizontally, so that you end up with 2 slices to make a “sandwich”
- Add a few crumbles of blue cheese and crushed walnuts on one of the 2 halves then top with the other half.
- Brush with a little bit of olive oil and grill in a non stick pan until nice and golden, about 5-7 minutes per side.
- Serve on a bed of mixed greens, garnish with a bit more blue cheese crumbles and walnuts, sprinkle with a few drops of balsamic vinegar.