Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Oven Baked Polenta

Mr Ferdzy loooooves cornmeal mush, and always wishes I would serve it more often. I have to admit I don't find it exciting for breakfast. However, I liked this very much and maybe I will start making it more often. Cooking your polenta in the oven makes it extremely easy and fool-proof - smooth and creamy with no stirring and no chance of scorching - my kind of cooking! It just  takes a bit of a long time.

I added diced cheddar as this was our dinner along with some ratatouille out of the freezer and so we wanted a bit of protein in it.You can add as much or as little (or no) cheese as you like really; it will depend on what kind of cheese and what else you are serving with it. Parmesan and other strong cheeses will go a long way and less will be needed, while farmers or mozzeralla type cheeses can be added with a heavier hand.

That frozen ratatouille, by the way: what a great idea that was. I made up a big batch at the end of tomato/eggplant/zucchini season last fall, and put it in tubs in the freezer. It's a little soupier once it's thawed than it was when it was freshly made but it's been a real treat to have it in the middle of the winter. I just boil it a bit to thicken it up, or add some of our frozen green beans. I've also picked out the solids and put them on pizza, then put what's left into soup. This will be a staple for us for sure. Of course, any kind of stew, braised meats or beans will go very well with polenta.

4 servings
1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes - 10 minutes prep time

1 cup polenta (coarse corn meal)
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups water
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/3 cup to 1 cup grated or finely diced cheese (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. 

Mix the polenta, salt, and water in an 8" x 10" shallow baking (lasagne) pan. Break up the butter and dot it around on top. Bake the polenta for 1 hour.

Remove the polenta from the oven and give it a stir. Add the cheese, if you wish, at this point. Test it for done-ness, and return it to the oven for 10 to 20 minutes, until it is thick and the cornmeal is done. (No gritty or crunchy quality left.)

Serve hot. Cold leftovers can be cut into slices, and pan-fried until golden brown and crunchy on each side.

Last year at this time I made Palestine Soup.

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