Saturday, March 5, 2011

Fancy cornmeal for dinner

You might not want to eat only a bowl of boiled cornmeal (aka "polenta), but if you dress it up with some sauce and pan fry it to create a tasty crust on it, polenta can be a great side dish or even the bulk of a very cheap meal. This is especially good for students because it's the kind of thing you can make once and either eat it for 2 or 3 days, or freeze it for later. This is how I made the dish in the picture:

This is to be done ahead of time:
1. Boil 6 cups of water in a 3 quart sauce pan and add some salt (start with 1 tsp and add more later to taste).
2. Slowly pour in 2 cups of cornmeal, either whisking or stirring. A spoon might be easier as the polenta gets thicker. Cook for a few minutes.
3. Add some salt, pepper, and any other seasonings you like.
4. Take the pan off the stove, mix in 2 Tbsp of olive oil or butter, and pour the polenta into a lined or oiled baking pan. Let it cool to room temperature and store in the fridge until it's time to make your meal.

When it's time to cook your meal:
1. Cut the cooled polenta into triangles or squares.
2. Either brush the polenta with oil or pour some oil in a frying pan and fry the polenta on low-medium heat until it's light brown.
3. Season with salt and pepper while frying. Cumin works well too.
4. As the polenta is frying, turn on another burner and make the sauces.

For the hollandaise sauce, I used Tyler Florence's recipe:
You can cut down on the butter if you like. Just make sure you don't overcook this!

For the tomato sauce, just take a sauce from a jar and warm it up. This is where you can throw in some meat (e.g. bacon, chicken, pork, or whatever you have) to make it a meal and simmer it while the polenta is frying. When everything is cooked, serve and eat!

I hope you enjoy this dish. It could work with whatever savory sauces or grated cheese you like.

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