[Grilled Polenta Slices]
I have a strange relationship with polenta. I either love it or loathe it, depending on how it’s prepared. If it’s just been cooked and it’s mushy, the smell and texture really put me off. But if you let it settle and you slice it, or even better yet, if the slices are grilled, then polenta is my very good friend.
And on Saturday night, grilled polenta slices are what I served with the Ginger Pineapple Chicken Skewers. (You can see them pictured on yesterday’s post.)
Grilled Polenta Slices
– 200 g quick cooking polenta
– salt, pepper
– a handful of flour
(Makes about 18 slices, to serve 6.)
Cook the polenta according to package instructions. (Don’t you just love that in recipes? All I can tell you is how my polenta works : you dump it into 4 times its volume of boiling salted water, and stir for 3 minutes, until it’s thickened.)
Spread out a clean dish cloth on your counter (not a towel with little hair, but a smooth and close-knit one), and sprinkle flour on it. Pour the polenta on the floured area, then close the kitchen cloth over it and roll it to wrap the polenta into a log. Struggle a bit, it builds character. I’m not going to lie to you, this is not easier than it sounds. At all. It’s somewhat awkward, especially if, like me, you’ve got way too much polenta for your skimpy cloth (I’ve adjusted the quantity in the recipe here, but I had cooked about 300 g) and you find yourself with a huge undisciplined blob of polenta. Hence the shape of my log, more loaf-like than cylindrical, which in turn explains the oval shape of my slices. But it doesn’t matter at all really, and the final effect was very nice.
Let your log rest for an hour in a cool environment (the mini-balcony is a good place, but forget about the one in the living-room, there is no space for a polenta log amidst the brasses of flowers, plants and cacti that your boyfriend tenderly coaxes into luxurious growth. Use the bedroom mini-balcony instead.). After that time, it should have firmed up enough that you can unroll the dish cloth. Little bits of cooked polenta will stay stuck on the dish cloth, that’s OK. I think. Haven’t washed the dish cloth yet.
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Line a cookie sheet with foil, and oil it a little. Cut the log into slices, about 1 cm (a little over 1/4”), and arrange the slices in one layer on the cookie sheet. Sprinkle salt and pepper on them. Put in the oven for about 15 minutes, until the slices have turned golden and they’re a little crispy at the edges. Flip the slices, and put them back in for another 15 minutes, until you reach a similar aspect on the other side.
Serve warm, three slices per guest is good. These can be made ahead of time and reheated ten minutes before serving. Admittedly, the kitchen towel step is a little messy, but they are overall easy to make, and I just love the result : the crispy edges, the moist and mealy inside, the sweet corn flour taste… They were the perfect side for the chicken skewers.