Ey yo! Long time no see!
Being back on that college grind means my entire diet has basically been whittled down to the "cheap and healthy" choices of 1) salad and 2) eggs on toast.
When I go home and visit my Dad on the weekends, I get crazy and eat some chicken, and drink a beer. It is like a madhouse up in here, y'all.
HOWEVER, this weekend I got the inordinate thrill of actually--gasp--COOKING A MEAL. And it was grand, because I discovered the joys of polenta a few months ago and it is absolutely my new favourite comfort food. In my highly unhumble opinion it's pretty much on par with mashed potatoes when done right, and I think it's the cheesiness that does it.
Polenta is historically a peasant's dish from back in Ye Olde Long Ass Time Ago (around the 16th century if you want to get technical), because essentially it's just cornmeal boiled with water into a porridge. Gruel.
Yeah that's right. I'm teaching you how to make gruel, you filthy Roman slave.
For the rest of this post, you may envision me this way. Triple bonus points if you actually know who this is.
Anyway, back on track.
A quirk of polenta is that it has a very short "plate life", just FYI. It can sort of gum up fairly quickly, so if you're adding it to part of another meal you want to make sure you've got everything else ready to go before the polenta is finished. It also doesn't reheat really well so don't make more than you need, BUT if you do, next-day polenta can be cut into pieces and either fried or grilled and is REALLY delicious that way.
Don't be put off by that. Don't be lazy.
Oh, and one last thing--since polenta is a starch you can pair it with just about anything your heart desires, but I was craving a Southern feel (and bacon was on sale, because there is a God) so I went ahead and mixed up a batch of my Bacon Braised Collard Greens to put on top. And then, of course, a crown of poached egg at the summit of this deliciousness, because if it CAN be topped with an egg, I will do it.
serves about 4 Roman slaves if they are skinny, or 2 Roman Slave Lords if you want a bit of leftovers
WHAT YOU NEED
- 3/4 cup fine yellow cornmeal
- 2 cups chicken broth or stock
- 1 cup dry white wine (not a sweet one like Moscato or Riesling)
- 3/4 cup grated sharp white cheddar (Cabot is the shit. Like, bar none the best non-specialty cheddar you can find at the grocery store, IMO.)
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- fresh cracked pepper
WHAT YOU DO
1. It's really easy. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring the broth and wine to a rapid simmer. Let simmer for about 6-8 minutes to let the alcohol in the wine cook off. Then slowly sprinkle in the cornmeal, paprika, and a bit of pepper, whisking constantly to avoid any lumps. It'll thicken up immediately and look like bubbling lava. Yummy! Turn the heat down to low, cover, and simmer gently for 15 minutes, stirring often.
2. It should only take about 15 minutes to cook, so at this point stir in the cheese until it's nice and melty. The consistency should be smooth with no lumps. If it's looking too thick for you after the cheese has been added, stir in a little more broth or water to thin it out (I like mine thinner) and serve immediately.
If you like, you can add some chopped fresh parsley or chives for some pretty colour; I just didn't have any. This recipe is bound to pop up again because there's so many variations I want to try, like...a baked chorizo, egg and polenta breakfast skillet...coming soon! (ish)