Saturday, May 30, 2015
Playing With Polenta
Played around with polenta recently after reading this guide on the real rules of making polenta. I think Daniel Gritzer's right about all his tips (and debunked tips), including not having to stir constantly, and that water ratio's more important; I definitely wasn't standing at the pot for 50 minutes straight, though I was stirring pretty frequently towards the end as it got thick.
The results were great. Notice how it didn't spread out after I scooped out a spoonful (below). This means it was properly thickened, and would hold together when pan-frying for a good looking and tasty sear (above).
I even tried deep-frying some of the cooled and solidified leftovers, for some very tasty polenta "fries". The insides were so smooth and creamy that they reminded me of cheese. But I had no dairy in my polenta--just a little Earth Balance stirred in at the end instead of butter for a little smooth richness. As Gritzer notes, using water to cook the polenta allows the corn flavor to come through.
Finally, I also tried cooking polenta in my rice cooker, and the results were perfect. Smooth, no lumps, and thick enough to set for searing if desired. And no need to stand over a pot! Just set and forget. I think I'm going to start stocking cornmeal as one of my staples.
I'm building a case for why even if you're Western centric and don't eat steamed rice much, you still want a good rice cooker for perfect and easy polenta and I suspect risotto, which I'll be testing soon. On top of perfect and easy steamed rice, of course. And congee. And steel-cut oats.