Shortcut Polenta

I'm a fan of polenta served with a savory meat dish.  It's delicious creamy, but my new favorite is fried polenta.  I had it recently at Stone Ground Kitchen in Salt Lake City.  Making traditional Italian style polenta takes about 30 minutes to an hour, but this method shortens the cooking time to about 15 minutes.  Read through the entire recipe before you begin because this method requires overnight soaking.

You can adjust the texture by adding a little more broth, for a looser result, or cook the polenta longer, stirring often at the end if you want it thicker.  To make fried polenta, you want it thicker.

2 cups polenta (not instant or quick-cooking)
3 cups boiling water
2 cups chick broth
fine sea salt
2 oz. finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano; more for  serving
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces.

Soak the Polenta:
Put the polenta in a 4 quart saucepan and whisk in the boiling water.  Cover and let sit at room temperature 8 to 12 hours.

Cook the Polenta:
In a 2 quart saucepan, bring the chicken broth to a boil.  Wish the broth and 1 teaspoon salt into the polenta, loosening it and  breaking up any clumps.  bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking once or twice, about 5 minutes.
Turn the heat down to low.  Cover and cook, stirring vigorously and scraping the bottom of the pan ith a wooden spoon or spatula every couple of minutes.  When you can see the bottom of the pan as you drag the spoon across it, 5 to 10 minutes later, begin tasting the polenta; it's done when it's thick, creaming, and tender.  It should be granular, but not gritty.

Remove from the heat, and stir in the cheese, butter and 1/2 teaspoon pper until the butter is melted.  Season to taste.  If you don't want to fry the polenta, it's ready to serve at this point.

If you want to fry the polenta, spread the polenta 1/2 inch think in an 8 x 8 baking dish.  Cool at room temperature, then cover and refrigerate up to 2 days.

To Fry the Polenta:

Invert the polenta onto a cutting board and cut into four 4 x 4 rectangles.

Melt the 3 tablespoons unsalted butter in a 12 inch non-stick skillet over medium heat.  Arrange the polenta in the skillet in a single layer and cook, undisturbed until golden brown on the bottom, about 4 minutes.  flip and cook until golden about 3 minutes more.

Garnish with parmesan cheese and serve.

Note: If you can't find polenta, in your local grocery store, look for it on Amazon.

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