01 09 10

search you little tarte

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Polenta: The Recyclable Food

As I've mentioned in the past, we are not a leftover eating family.  I have about 100 nice little containers, some with lids and some without, for saving leftovers, but no one ever eats them once I stick them in the refrigerator.  I've gotten better at cooking less so we have less go to waste, but it's a process.  I figure that by the time I master cooking for three instead of four, Kate will be off to college and I'll have to start over again.  Maybe at that point Ted and I will just start eating out every night.  It would be so much easier.

Nonetheless, there is one gaping exception to the no one eats leftovers rule.  That would be polenta.  In fact, polenta can be prepared so many different ways that I find myself planning for leftovers when I make it in the first place.  It can be served creamy, fried, and grilled, to name just a few of the many variations on the theme.  It truly is the recyclable food.

I usually start out by making creamy polenta as a side dish for dinner.  Since there are usually only three of us, there's a lot left over.  I then take the leftovers and store them in a Saran lined loaf or 8x8 pan.  Cover the whole thing with more Saran Wrap and stick it in the refrigerator.  Don't worry if you don't use it immediately.  I think it lasts forever.  When you're ready to use it, just slice it up into whatever size pieces you want and either grill it in a grill pan (winter) or on the barbeque (summer).  Or you can fry it up, which is particularly yummy.   Either way, you have a whole different preparation and nobody will refer to polenta in the common refrain "all we ever have is . . . " (around here normally chicken).  Or, if you're feeling particularly feisty, you can serve the polenta with chicken and really mess with their heads.

You're a star and you've done virtually no work the second time around.  You can also use this as a barter for a new pair of shoes, handbag, etc.  Just point out how thrifty you're being.  This hasn't actually worked for me yet, but it may for you.  Even without the new bag, it's worth it.

Recipe:  Basic Polenta

Note:  Feel free to experiment.  Some tasty additions are Parmesan cheese, gorgonzola, and fresh herbs.


6 cups low sodium chicken stock or water
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 3/4 cups yellow cornmeal
3 tablespoons unsalted butter

In a large, heavy saucepan, bring the chicken stock to a boil.  Add the salt and gradually whisk in the cornmeal.  Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring often, until the mixture thickens and the cornmeal is tender, approximately 10-15 minutes.  Remove from the heat and add the butter, stirring until it is combined well.

1 comment:

  1. I love polenta. I love leftover polenta - especially grilled with mozzarella melted on top and a bot of marinara. I know what I'm making this weekend!