Life In LC

Seared Polenta Squares

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52 weeks of cooking – Searing

I love polenta and I don’t understand why it’s not popular to those I serve it to. I could eat a huge bowl of polenta with just a simple sauce of roasted tomatoes with basil and be very satisfied, but some people just seem afraid of it.

When I joined Class Afloat on the Gulden Leeuw I planned a nice dinner for the student’s first night at sea, I wanted something warming that would fill their tummies. I made roasted pork with apples and onions and served a creamy polenta and roasted vegetables along side. They all seemed eager when they dipped in and took a good serving of polenta, I was excited that it appeared as if they might like it, but that was not to be the case. I think a lot of them didn’t know what it was, thought it was good ol’ mashed potatoes and took more than they probably would have had they known it was polenta. Plus, there was another unforeseen factor for their distaste for polenta for the rest of the school year. I don’t get seasick, never have, so I forget to factor in that throwing up a certain food may be a terrible experience. That night probably 90% of the students were heaving their dinner over the side of the ship, I guess polenta would be a bad texture to experience on the second time around.

I tried making polenta again for them a time or two but it was just a waste, no one touched it. I still love polenta so I still make it and grits too, but I think it’s just a bit unknown for a lot of people, not in the mainstream of foods.

My second favorite way to serve polenta is seared. Cook up a batch of polenta holding back on some of the water or diary so that it won’t be as loose. Pour it into a greased pan and let it cool, it sets firm so it can be cut into squares and seared in oil. The outside gets golden brown and crispy while the inside heats back up and becomes creamy like it has just been cooked.

 






Seared Polenta Squares


Ingredients

  • 20 c water
  • 3 tbsp. chicken stock base
  • 2 tsp. cracked black pepper
  • 6 1/2 c quick grits
  • 1/2 c butter

Directions

  1. In a large pot bring water, chicken base and pepper to a boil.
  2. Turn down to medium low and while whisking continuously add the grits.
  3. Cook for about 10-15 minutes stirring occasionally, the grains should be tender but they do not have to be completely creamy.
  4. Mix in the butter, once melted and fully incorporated pour the cooked grits into a greased 12×20” pan or two 9×13” pans.
  5. Let cool on until it’s room temperature and then chill until needed.
  6. Note: you can add other ingredients to these like a little cheese or some corn kernels, just don't add to much or they won't be as solid when you go to sear them.

Searing the squares

  1. Turn out the polenta cake onto a cutting board, cut into desired shape and size.
  2. Heat a large pan or griddle on high heat, grease the pan lightly and add the polenta cakes, turn the heat down a little to medium high. The first side takes a little longer so be patient, about 5 minutes, once the first side is a dark golden brown flip them over and sear the other side.

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