By SIMON WEBSTER
Polenta is a dish I was introduced to some time ago and what fun it has been to make. It is a finely ground cornmeal that comes from Italy. It can be prepared and served many different ways.
Most of the polenta available in stores is the instant version. Simply bring broth and milk to a simmer and then stir in the polenta. You can then add your favorite cheese or maybe some chopped bacon, green onions or minced parsley for color.
At that point it has the consistency of mashed potatoes and is very enjoyable as a side dish. Or you can spoon it out into a baking pan and refrigerate for a few hours. Once it cools it will be solid and can be cut into round or square cakes that can be grilled or pan-fried.
Another great way to use polenta is to cut into small cubes, bake or pan-fry until crisp and then use in a salad as croutons. Like I said it is a very versatile ingredient.
It also blends well with most meats and seafood and holds the flavor of the sauces that accompany them. I used it last weekend as a base for this sautéed shrimp with wild mushrooms appetizer that I served at our latest Tuscan dinner.
If you are downtown this Saturday for the Mardi Gras parade, stop by Granny Muffin Wines. I will be outside the store doing a New Orleans cooking demonstration with Tyler Morning Telegraph Food Editor, Christine Gardner. She will be making Mardi Gras mocktails and I will make jambalaya. Hope you can get out this weekend and have some fun.
1 1/2 cups broth
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup polenta
1/4 cup grated parmesan
Bring liquids to a simmer. Add polenta and stir until thick. Stir in the cheese and pour into a 8 inch square dish to set. Place in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight. Cut into appropriately sized shapes and pan-fry in a few tablespoons of oil until browned and crisp.
Simon Webster is the Executive Chef of Sabor a Pasion Country House & Bistro a multi-faceted dining destination just outside Palestine. For more information go to www.saborapasion.com or call 903-729-9500.