Monday, 16 June 2014

Grilled Herbed Polenta

I was trying out a new recipe for grilled chicken thighs, but what to serve with it? A quick look in the fridge and I found about a tablespoon of lemon thyme butter (from my cherry stuffed turkey), some parsley and grated parmesan. Good additions to polenta, that can be made ahead and grilled alongside the chicken. Perfect, as I had a free morning, and a busy afternoon!

When I make polenta I use a ratio of 3 cups of liquid to 1 cup of cornmeal. If I have chicken stock in the fridge, I use that up. I usually use milk as I find it adds a nice richness, but a combination works well too. I add a tablespoon of fat, usually olive oil, but in this case I was using the herb butter. I also put a pinch of sugar and salt into the liquid when heating it up.

Before starting to cook the polenta I lined an 8" square pan with plastic wrap, as the polenta would be put in there to set up before grilling, and this makes unmoulding and clean up a snap.

I heated the milk with the salt, sugar and butter, and when the butter was melted, slowly whisked in the cornmeal. Cooked over a low heat, whisking occasionally, the polenta takes a few minutes to start to thicken, continue to cook until it thickens enough to pull away from the sides of the pan.

 At this point, the polenta is cooked. I stirred in the parmesan and chopped parsley.

Using the back of a spoon, the polenta gets spread into the prepared pan. Keep a bowl of cold water on hand to wet the spoon to help prevent sticking. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until ready to grill.

A variation on this is to place the polenta in a greased ovenproof dish and bake it to heat it up. 

You can turn this into a one dish meal, by topping the polenta with crumbled cooked sausage, chopped fresh tomatoes (peeled and seeded), chopped fresh basil and a sprinkling of grated mozzarella.

 Another side dish variation is place the polenta in a plastic wrap lined loaf pan. When it is cold, unmould and cut it in half lengthwise. Place one half back into the pan (greased), put a layer of crumbled blue cheese on top, then cover with the remaining layer of polenta. After baking to heat through, turn out and slice to serve.

To grill the polenta, unmould from the pan, cut into squares, brush with olive oil and place on a pre-heated grill.  The outside will be crispy and have that lovely charred flavour, while the inside will be warm and creamy. Yum!

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