Polenta is a simple dish made by cooking cornmeal in water. After it's cooked, you can add any flavors that you like to it. Fresh herbs and Parmesan cheese are traditional, but jalapeño and cheddar, or asparagus and lemon zest would also be great flavors to add. Let your imagination run free.
Instead of serving the polenta freshly cooked, you can chill it, slice it and then fry it up. Yumm! It will have a nice crispy fried outside that holds the creamy filling in. Fried polenta is great with any sauce and can be made without the flour coating for a gluten free dish. The polenta slices can also be grilled, if you're outside, or not into fried food.
6 C Water
2 t Salt
1 3/4 C Cornmeal
2 T Butter
Oil for frying
Bring water to a boil. Add salt.
Slowly pour in the cornmeal while continually whisking.
Once all of the meal is mixed in and there are no lumps, lower the heat.
Switch to a wooden spoon and stir often, cooking for 10-20 minutes.
The cornmeal will be cooked and thick when it's done. (Your spoon should leave a trail behind it in the pan.)
Finish with butter and your choice of seasonings. You can also add cheese or cream to the polenta, if serving it soft (not fried).
The polenta is now ready to eat, or you can continue on and make fritas.
I used fresh basil and white pepper in this polenta. I kept it simple because I wanted to serve it fried with some very flavorful sauces.
Once the butter and seasonings are mixed in spoon or pour the polenta into loaf pans (oil or use non-stick cooking spray), or any container that will be easy to store in the fridge.
Smooth out the top, cover and refrigerate for a few hours or over night.
The polenta will firm up. When that has happened and you're ready to fry, remove it from the pan by placing a plate over the top and flipping it upside down.
Then, slice the polenta into pieces of equal size that will be easy to handle.
Heat about half an inch of oil in a pan.
Lightly coat the pieces with flour. (This is optional.)
Place polenta in the hot oil so that the pieces do not touch each other.
Let the polenta cook on each side for about 2 minutes. Or, till it is golden brown and crisp.
Remove the pieces from the oil and place them on absorbing towels.
Serve with any sauce, meat, and/or cheese that you like. You can make a great vegetarian main dish with polenta.
I split the polenta into two pans to chill and used each half on different days.
The first day, I served the fried polenta with Grilled Salmon and Chunky Vegetable Sauce over fresh spinach.
I saved the second half of the polenta in the fridge and fried it just before I served it the next day. That batch was served with a Tex-Mex Turkey Tenderloin Stew garnished with Fried Jalapeño Strips and Parmesan.