Thursday, April 7, 2011

New meal: Red Pepper Polenta

A few weeks ago I had polenta for the first time at one of my favorite Bloomington restaurants. When it came to be my turn to cook dinner for weekly roomie dinner night, I opted to try making it myself. I really enjoyed the creaminess of the polenta when I got it at the restaurant, so I looked and looked for recipes to try to figure out the best way to replicate that yumminess. Turns out not that many of my cookbooks or the food blogs I read talk much about polenta--and when they do, a lot of time it's a polenta cake or fried polenta. Not what I was going for, at least not for my first try.

So what's a girl to do? Follow the instructions on the package, of course! My grocery store has the logs of polenta available in the refrigerated part of the produce section, and they have the uncooked corn meal in the specialty flours, &tc. section. I opted for the uncooked stuff just to try my hand at the whole process. When I set about making the recipe on Monday, I followed the recipe on the back of the Bob's Red Mill package with a few additions: 1) instead of just sprinkling grated cheese on top of the polenta when it was finished, I mixed about 3/4 c grated asiago into the polenta just as I took it off the heat so that it would melt throughout; and 2) I put some roasted red peppers and a bit of olive oil in the food processor to make a thin sauce, and I stirred that into the polenta as well for a bit of sweetness. Turns out these were tasty additions.

The polenta was yummy that first night, when I served it with pork tenderloin and broccoli. I had a lot leftover, however, so I followed the roomie's lead and fried a bit up in a pan. Just a drizzle of olive oil was enough to get the surfaces of a 1/2-inch thin slice of the polenta starting to brown while the inside turned to gooey goodness. Turns out polenta is quite a versatile dish!

1 comment:

  1. I love polenta and eat it far too often :) Other tricks:
    1) If you want to make it from cornmeal, which is cheaper than the log, it's 1/4 cup dry cornmeal per person to 1 cup liquid. I tend to use a mixture of liquids, with the ideal (not that I do this often) of 2 cups milk, 1 cup white wine, 1 cup veggie or chicken broth. I also tend to add spinach right at the last minute until it wilts.
    2) You can also pour polenta into a pizza pan and bake it as a crust. Bake 10-15 minutes at 375 until firm, then put your toppings on and bake until hot/melty cheese.