Polenta recipes
June 13, 2010 1:15 PM   Subscribe

Provide me with polenta of ideas for polenta recipes.

Have purchased a sausage-like tube of polenta. What now? Think of grilling of frying it but could easily be persuaded to do something else. Tell me your favorite meals that make use of polenta....
posted by SueDenim to Food & Drink (30 answers total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
Chill, slice, use instead of noodles in lasagna.
One of my favorites.

Pan fry and serve with honey or syrup (polenta and fried cornmeal mush, basically the same things)
posted by Seamus at 1:28 PM on June 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

I've never used the tube kind. It's much easier to make than people make it out to be.
That being said, I'm not sure if you can loosen up the texture of the tubed stuff. If you can, heat it up in a pan, add some milk, pepper and cheese and serve a small pile of it like any starch. It can go with a nice piece of grilled fish and some sauteed veggies with a simple sauce (or just a tab of butter).
posted by Seamus at 1:30 PM on June 13, 2010

Not everybody is thrilled with the tube stuff. I like it, sliced thin, baked to brown it a bit, then shredded cheese broiled on top. You could do something similar on a grill.
posted by StickyCarpet at 1:35 PM on June 13, 2010

Gorgonzola is a good companion.
posted by rhizome at 1:37 PM on June 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Easy polenta pancakes, just heat some slices in a skillet with butter, or some fat left over from your bacon, and serve with warm maple syrup. Maple syrup, the real thing, goes very well with corn based breads. These are dense and not risen pancakes so one or two go a long way.
posted by caddis at 1:40 PM on June 13, 2010

Sliced thin and cooked about 5 mins each side, with spinach, garlic, butter, and bacon (I use turkey bacon) in a frying pan.
posted by quodlibet at 1:47 PM on June 13, 2010

Make polenta fries!
posted by zinfandel at 1:49 PM on June 13, 2010

I make a tomato-based "pasta" sauce with vegetables in a saucepan. (You can Google lots of recipes for this, of course. In addition to the standard olive oil, onions, herbs, and a big can of tomatoes, I'll use whatever I have on hand -- for instance, carrots, celery, garlic, zucchini, roasted red peppers, peas, toasted pine nuts, a bit of vegetable stock for moisture ... lemon and parmesan cheese at the end.) In a separate skillet, I fry the polenta in olive oil. Then combine it all. Pretty straightforward and delicious.
posted by Jaltcoh at 1:51 PM on June 13, 2010

well, grilled or fried you're more than halfway there! (be cautious when frying, it takes a lot of time and it tends to spatter everywhere and the bits stick to each other). Ideas below are more suited to a cooler climate, but anyway:

- with a meat ragu (this recipe is surprisingly reasonable for being in English -no offense- just ditch the garlic and add a bay leaf). You could rapidly cook some fresh italian sausage and some pork ribs in a pan, take out the rendered fat and add them to the sauce for the last 45' of cooking time; serve the sliced polenta, a few spoonfuls of the sauce an a few chunks of meat on top, sprinkle with liberal amounts of parmigiano. (this is the typical bolognese way)

- mushrooms! A ragu as above, without the pork but with added mushrooms!

- any nice, earthy stew

- cheese! Get some gorgonzola, put the polenta slices in a casserole, cover with chunks of gorgonzola, grate some parmigiano on it, bake until cheese is molten and golden. (also, great with fontina - maybe a spoonful of cream? sure! -- this is more typical in the Alps)

- of course grilled, in substitution for bread, I remember having an incredible roasted pike in Mantua, served with grilled polenta

- with baccalĂ , the venetian way (notice that baccalĂ  in most of Italy means salt cod, while in Veneto it is actually stockfish, so the original recipe is for stockfish -- salt cod is absolutely good anyway): soak the fish for the required time, cut in chunks, toss in flour and fry until almost done. Prepare a tomato sauce with oil, garlic, tomato puree, a few black olives and capers, and as it's cooking (say, 5' from when it starts boiling) add the fish to the sauce, let cook 15' more, and serve on the polenta.
posted by _dario at 1:52 PM on June 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Never have tried the tube kind, but good polenta has an earthy, nutty sweetness that complements mushrooms, dark greens and smokey/gamey meats. As others have mentioned, it can be prepared as a creamy porridge or reinvented in many forms (making it versatile as leftovers) such as in cakes, fried disks and even sweetened up for desserts. For a light dinner, I love to have polenta (in fluffy porridge form) baked at 350 in ramekins with sauteed chard, mushrooms and garlic and an egg on top. I would soften it up with some butter and or milk, prepare the sauteed vegetables and bake for ten or fifteen minutes in a bain marie, depending on how you prefer your eggs.

Polenta with a bright and fresh marinara sauce is also simple, traditional and delicious!
posted by Lisitasan at 1:52 PM on June 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

I stir in goat cheese to my polenta instead of cream for a bit of zing, and I put leftovers in a greased dish in the fridge, which I then slice up and use as mini pizza crusts or bases for things like greens and sauces.
posted by mynameisluka at 2:17 PM on June 13, 2010

I haven't made it yet, but Polentina with Bananas and Maple Syrup sounds incredibly yummy in lieu of oatmeal for breakfast. Not quite sure how to adapt the recipe for the tube o' polenta, though.
posted by gatorae at 2:18 PM on June 13, 2010

I slice the tube stuff (from Trader Joe's, right?), put it in a grill basket, let it get nice and toasty, and serve it alongside grilled sausages.
posted by MrMoonPie at 2:22 PM on June 13, 2010

This crockpot polenta recipe is aces. I make it frequently in the winter with roasted vegetables rather than the mushroom sauce.

This polenta with white bean salad is good for a quick weeknight dinner in the summertime.
posted by something something at 2:24 PM on June 13, 2010

In Corfu, we were served moussaka with polenta in place of bechamel, it was very good, and I've used the tube stuff in my own version when I wanted to shortcut the prep work. It works pretty well.
posted by path at 2:31 PM on June 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I did the following once (although with homemade polenta) and it was very yummy:

Take a bunch of ramekins or other little oven-safe cups. Put a slice of polenta at the bottom of each. Top with a decent amount of tomato sauce (I sauteed some jarred stuff with onions and garlic to make it a little more flavorful). Crack an egg into each ramekin. Bake until the whites are set but the yolks are still a little runny. Top with grated parmesan cheese.
posted by pluckemin at 2:32 PM on June 13, 2010 [2 favorites]

Grill it! Grilled with grilled portobellos and steamed spinach with some shaved parm and a sunny side up egg. That is my favorite brunch.

Nthing those who prefer to make it themselves because it isn't difficult. Recommending Bob's Red Mill.
posted by cestmoi15 at 2:34 PM on June 13, 2010

Fill a deep dish pizza crust with polenta, poke 4 holes into the polenta, crack an egg into each hole, salt and pepper to taste and bake. Top with bacon. A great breakfast.
posted by ferdinandcc at 3:25 PM on June 13, 2010

Seconding polenta fries. I had polenta chips (fries to you) at Jamie Oliver's in Oxford a couple of weeks ago and they were really good.
posted by Logophiliac at 3:30 PM on June 13, 2010

do you like mexican food at all? polenta goes really nicely with beans (black or refried), salsa, & cheese

you can make a nice & easy casserole with the above by layering them in a baking dish - polenta, beans, salsa, cheese, more polenta on top - and baking at 350 for 20-30min

toss in whatever else you want in the middle there (veggies, meat, etc.) - maybe some chopped scallions on top when it's done

posted by jammy at 4:09 PM on June 13, 2010

Response by poster: Ok. So inspired by the mexican suggestions, here is what I tried: I cut the tube into two halves and then sliced one half long ways ( the other half went into the fridge to try one of the many great suggestions here). I drizzled some olive oil and then grilled the slices (actually takes suprisingly long to brown on both sides - maybe 15min) and then sliced some fresh avocado on top and squeezed a lime over it. Simple and very tasty.
Quite looking forward to giving the other half a good seeing to later in the week......
posted by SueDenim at 5:14 PM on June 13, 2010

I just made a polenta/olive oil/rosemary cake for dessert the other day! I was totally winging it, so it's hard to be precise, but I used a standard pound cake ratio, replaced 1/2 the butter with olive oil, added a handful of crumbled rosemary, and mixed in a few ounces of polenta (the dry kind) that i'd softened in a bit of hot water. I must confess it was awesome. (Don't skimp on either the salt or the sugar).
posted by Mngo at 5:32 PM on June 13, 2010 [2 favorites]

A coworker of mine gave me a 'recipe' for a polenta... thing.

She used the tube stuff from Trader Joe's, cut four rounds off and placed them in a baking dish. She then tossed some cherry tomatoes and mozzarella cheese on top; Baked it all till it was melty and golden and topped it with a poached egg.

Ever since she told me about this, I've been looking for polenta in the stores (seems like it should be a simple thing to find... so far, I've had no luck!).
posted by LOLAttorney2009 at 6:41 PM on June 13, 2010

Basically, you're talking about (likely) yellow corn grits cooked and packed into a tube.

Outside of some particular regional distinctions of "true grits" being made only of hominy (corn that has been processed in alkali) most recipes you see calling for polenta can be replicated with grits should you find yourself in an area likely to have grits for sale (basically anywhere south of the Mason-Dixon line) and vice-versa for any recipes that call for grits, you can get to the same destination with polenta. Though, you may find some Southerners glancing apprehensively at anything yellow being called "grits."

Whatever name you want to call them, I've found much pleasure in a simple dish of crispy pancetta or any kind of good bacon with whatever fresh slow-cooked greens available (collard, turnip, kale, mustard if you're feeling spicy), and cannellini beans served over polenta/grits cooked with butter and a good parmesan-type sharp hard cheese.
posted by hominid211 at 8:37 PM on June 13, 2010

Chicken. My grandmother has been making Polenta at least every other Sunday for 50 years. It's always served with chicken. (and peas when I'm coming over :)

Frying/Cast-iron pan. Add a bit of olive oil on high, add chicken breast/legs. Add Sage. Brown it. Lower the temp. Cover. Cook two hours. Add a bit of water every once in a while. Make sure it doesn't stick.

Oh, and what rhizome said about Gorgonzola.

(also, I suggest you try the non-tube version...it's way better...especially if you want to mix it with cheese. )
posted by Spumante at 1:40 AM on June 14, 2010

If you're interested in trying creamier non-tube versions as recommended but don't want to do the all-out 45 minutes minimum stovetop thing, I hear instant polenta is decent. Not as good obvy, but decent. But I can't vouch personally.

People said it already upthread, but polenta is great with beans (white beans too, not just black), creamy but assertive cheeses, and rosemary, as well as flavorful greens like kale and chard. Lidia Bastianich has some recipes using almost all of those things at once if I recall.
posted by ifjuly at 9:07 AM on June 14, 2010

Cut the polenta into small dice, roast with kale & sausage (meat/veggie/whatever). Easy & delicious.
posted by judith at 11:24 AM on June 14, 2010

Polenta is great with a flavorful tomato sauce. A great fast lunch is some polenta (slices in your case) plus jarred sauce, and cheese. Layer it in a tupperware, keep in the fridge and microwave it at the office.

If this gets you interested in more polenta dishes you've got the chance to add lots of flavor while cooking. You can also control the thickness of it. I don't always like the super thick, sliceable polenta. Try it as a pasta substitute in thick porridge constancy. I like Bob's Red Mill polenta, and it cooks quickly. I'll often use chicken broth as the liquid and add a handful of cheese at the end (asiago is awesome).

I love this recipe Pumpkin Polenta with Chorizo and Black Beans. Basically you use canned pumpkin as part of the cooking liquid, then fry up a topping sauce with black beans and chorizo.

(also, I find grits and polenta to be very different. Grits are lyme treated hominy from white corn, where as polenta is just ground hominy (white or yellow). I think grits are slimy and gross, polenta creamy-yum. I may not exactly be a northerner, but a city-folk for sure)
posted by fontophilic at 9:35 AM on June 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Not to derail too much, but fontophilic's take on grits vs. polenta used to be mine too, until I kept stumbling over and over on really amazing grits different establishments around town were serving--very thick and creamy with good cheese, as good as or better than (!) any polenta I'd had. Now, you might argue those really good "grits" were actually polenta in disguise--I've often wondered myself--just called grits to get the Memphis kids eating 'em, ha. But they had a slightly different consistency and appearance than polenta--still looked like they'd be watery, with each translucent granule visible and distinct floating in a binding mass. It was just when you bit into them you realized you'd hit gold. So I wonder now how different the difference really is, and what's with the variation in grits.
posted by ifjuly at 11:29 AM on June 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you so much everyone - there is plenty of food for thought here.....
posted by SueDenim at 11:55 AM on June 15, 2010

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