I can’t seem to get enough polenta lately. I grill it or bake it, top it with tomatoes, vegies and cheese. It’s my substitute when Ken tells me I am going to turn into a taco if I don’t stop eating corn tortillas with everything and nothing.
Polenta uses a coarse grain cornmeal; regular cornmeal is too finely ground for polenta.
3 slices bacon, pancetta or chorizo
1 onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 c chopped mushrooms
4 dried porcini mushrooms, chopped fine
2 c swiss chard, chopped (or fresh spinach)
1 c mozzarella cheese
2-3 T parmesan cheese
1-3/4 c chicken broth
1/2 c coarsely ground yellow cornmeal
1 T butter
- To the dried porcini mushrooms, pour in just enough hot water to cover. Leave for a couple of minutes until they’ve softened. Then fish them out and chop them, reserving the soaking liquid.
- Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, fry the bacon (or pancetta or chorizo if you choose) until crispy and transfer to a dish, leaving the meat fat in the skillet. Add the onions and cook until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Transfer about 1/3 of the onions to a bowl and set aside.
- Add the chopped mushrooms and cook until tender, adding a glug of olive oil if too dry, about 5 minutes. Add the porcini and cook for another minute. Add the swiss chard and cook for another 3 minutes until the leaves are wilted and tender, about 3-4 minutes. Return the bacon to the skillet, and stir to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- To make the polenta crust, pour the chicken broth into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the coarse grain cornmeal in a gradual stream, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Reduce the heat to low and continue to cook, whisking frequently, for about 20 minutes until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan into a firm, sticky mass. Add the reserved onions and 1 tablespoon of butter. Stir to combine.
NOTE: You can use store-bought polenta too. Just slice and press into a baking dish.
- Lightly grease an 8×8″ baking dish and firmly press the polenta into the bottom of it. Refrigerate for at least an hour or up to 2 days.
- Bake the polenta in a 400°F oven for about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven, and reduce the temperature to 350°F. **
- Spread the bacon/vegetable mixture over the polenta, sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and top with the mozzarella cheese.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 350°F for 35-40 minutes until the cheese is melted and beginning to brown. Let sit for 5 minutes and then, cut, serve and enjoy!
** You can make a polenta pizza crust that is less casserole-y by spreading the dough out into circles on a baking sheet (about 1/4-1/2″ thick). Back for 25 minutes, flipping once halfway through. You’ll get a crisp crust that you can top with whatever: tom sauce, tomatoes, basil, zucchini…