Monday, January 5, 2009
OK, I finally get Polenta. I get it.
I have eaten polenta a few times. Totally uninspiring. I've made many a recipe calling for a side of polenta (usually a recipe that has a sauce, interestingly enough) and usually ignored it.
I've bought a few of those tubes of polenta you see in the produce section of the supermarket. They last forever, I've cut off a few slices, fried them, tried putting cheese on them, totally bland and I just never got the point. A few times they just sat in my refrigerator for months until they expired and I just tossed them.
I was browsing last night and happened to come across a recipe for Polenta at Simply Recipes, and somehow it caught my eye. I was already planning to make Cider Honey Mustard Pork Chops (to be blogged soon, I'm making it tonight) and I thought maybe, maybe, the polenta would go with it.
So instead of buying a tube, I bought two pounds of bulk polenta at the store ($0.89) and one bar of cream cheese ($0.99) and decided to make the polenta last night even though my meal was this evening. (Two bucks? Are you kidding me, that's all?)
OMG, this was absolutely delicious. Creamy, beautiful texture, gentle hint of tangy cream cheese in every bite. And I realized then, that this is a beautiful side dish for almost any meal, especially one that has a sauce or gravy, as the polenta would marry wonderfully with any excess sauces as you eat. For instance, let's say you made a roast with a gravy of some type, or a pork tenderloin with a lime cream sauce (hint) the polenta would be perfect to scoop up some extra sauce. That being said, it's perfect, all by itself. (But do NOT buy the tubes, make it yourself)
Having said that, I'm sure I will now go on a Polenta "hunt" to see what I can add to it. Balsamic and mushrooms perhaps? Stay tuned, I'll let you know.
It was so good, I looked up the history of polenta: History of Polenta
Ingredients and Method:
4 cups water
Salt to taste
1 cup medium-grain yellow polenta
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup cream cheese
1 Heat water lightly seasoned with salt to a boil over high heat, about 5 minutes. Quickly whisk in the polenta until fully incorporated.
2 Lower the heat to a low simmer, add the butter and allow the polenta to cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.
3 Finish by stirring in the cream cheese and salt to taste.
If preparing in advance, cool, cover and refrigerate. Reheat in the microwave, about 5 minutes on high, just before serving. Stir vigorously after reheating to fluff.
I ate two bowls of it right then, fresh from the pot. And I'll tell ya a secret, the following morning....of course it hardens overnight in the refrigerator, so I scooped some out into a bowl, microwaved it, and dripped some pure maple syrup over it and had it for breakfast! Delicious.
As I said, I now GET polenta. Feature side dish in my house from now on. Please do try it.