I'm sure you've seen polenta made often on various food shows and in a variety of ways. This version came from a newspaper article I snipped and saved years ago. Polenta is yellow or white cornmeal boiled with water or stock into a creamy thick porridge.
It can be eaten directly or cooled and cut for use in recipe dishes that are baked, fried or grilled. Polenta was known as a peasant food and been served throughout Europe since Roman times.
It's known as an Italian comfort food and often served instead of mashed potatoes or rice with roasted chicken, shrimp, scallops, or fish.
I refrigerate overnight, then cut then freeze polenta squares and take out as needed. Most often I reheat and serve with breakfast eggs; or reheat for a side dish topped with cheese (Parmesan or Mozzarella) and tomato sauce.
Cheesey Salsa Polenta
3, 15 oz.cans of chicken broth or (45 oz. of water)
2 cups of salsa
2 cups yellow cornmeal
1 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
2 cups cheddar cheese
3 Tabs of butter
salt and pepper to taste
In a large pot combine broth, salsa, cornmeal, pepper flakes. Bring to a boil uncovered and simmer on low for 10 minutes, until polenta is soft and creamy looking. Stir frequently so it does not stick.
Add cheese, butter and seasoning and continue to stir and blend and simmer for 5 more minutes until cheese melts. It's done when a wooden spoon can stand up on it's own in the thickened mixture.
It can be served immediately, or poured into a sprayed or non-stick cookie sheet pan with edges or oblong casserole dish. Line sheet or dish with parchment or wax paper overlapping edges which will help lift out set polenta when ready to cut. Place in the refrigerator to cool and set for at least 2 hours, but overnight is best.
Once set, turn out onto a cutting board and cut into squares, rounds, or triangles. Brush each side with olive oil and either saute over medium heat, grill, or deep fry.
Serve as a side dish or serve covered with cheese and favorite Italian red or white sauce. May also be grilled or fried then topped with caramelized onions for a side dish or appetizer. Serves at least 8 to 10 as a side dish.
Estimated cost: $4 or less; .50 cents a serving or less.