This is the first time I’ve ever cooked or tasted Polenta and I really had no expectations of taste or texture. For those (like me a few days ago) that don’t know, Polenta is a grainy texture like fine cous cous, but when water or milk is added it becomes sort of like mashed potato. You can serve it like this or you can spread it out on a cold plate or tray and leave it to set, then it can be sliced up and fried in oil.
After mixing the polenta with the boiling water I had a little taste and soon realised that this strange stuff is really just a carrier for flavour as it’s really quite bland!
In this recipe the flavours added are garlic, chilli, rosemary and cheese (I used reduced fat cheese – old habits die hard!). When it was boiling in the pan it became almost volcanic so watch out! I took a few hits and it’s so messy!
Once I had boiled it, poured it out and let it set it became oddly flexible – not what I expected at all – and it was very easy to slice up ready to be fried! Theres no need to be too delicate with this stuff.
The flavour balance was delicious and much stronger than I’d expected and I think it would have tasted even nice if I’d used a mature cheddar as it suggested in the recipe. I think for a beginner this is a pretty fool proof recipe, it was easy to make and everything came out like it was meant to :) It would be really nice as a rustic lunch or even as a side dish but I do think next time I’d make half the amount of tomato sauce because that drowned out the polenta a little bit!
What I have learnt about Polenta:
Well it definitely needs a good amount of flavour adding to it to make it more exciting! It’s a very versatile and forgivable ingredient, I felt like you couldn’t go too wrong with the process! It definitely got me thinking about flavour combinations which could be used with polenta so I have lots of ideas :)
Also I found out that once you have set the polenta (before frying it in slices) it can be frozen. This was great because I had made too much so I now have batches in the freezer ready to be defrosted and fried :)
My husband said that he thought it tasted a bit like a cheesy pancake – not sure if this is what its meant to taste like but I liked it!
So Polenta Challenge week one is over, any advice on Polenta is of course welcome! Next week I’m going to cook a polenta pudding (Another versatile ingredient)
NB I’ve also taken part in a challenge on a great blog Ive found - Jo’s Kitchen – River Cottage Rocks – What a great idea to get people cooking recipes from the River Cottage Collections! I got the River Cottage Veg for christmas and have hardly put it down :). thanks Jo! x