Sunday, August 29, 2010

Polenta Tots

It's the end of the month. I planned very, very poorly for groceries this month. Therefore, our last several days of the month have had to be more creative than even I care for. And my favorite Bare Cupboard recipe searching site, Cooking By Numbers, seems to have been taken off the 'net for some reason, so I've been seriously winging it. I haven't done too badly: we've had vegetable lo mein, bean & rice burritos, even some pan-fried pork chops. But I'm going to be so glad when grocery day rolls around. Enough of this seat-of-my-pants stuff.

One of the tricks up my sleeve is polenta. Using just one ingredient (well, okay, one main ingredient plus seasoning), I can create several dishes: grits, and polenta prepared many ways. Today, I made polenta tots. They're bite-size bits of polenta, baked until crispy on the outside and soft in the middle, golden in color and resembling tater tots. Here's how I do it:

Polenta Tots

What You Need:
  • 2 cups uncooked polenta (also called grits)
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp minced parsley
How it's Done:
  1. Combine everything in a tall-sided saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and maintain a simmer, stirring constantly, until your arm is about to fall off. Then, switch hands and do it some more.
  2. No really -- cook and stir about 20 to 30 minutes or until the polenta is pretty much a solid mass that takes a long while to fall back into place after you run a spoon through it.
  3. Line a 9x11" baking dish with parchment or foil. Spread polenta in the dish. Cover and refrigerate several hours, or overnight.
  4. Remove polenta from the pan. Cut into desired shapes. Place on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Flip over and bake another 10 to 15 minutes. Sprinkle with more sea salt when they come out, if you want.
  5. Serve with pizza sauce.


Tractor Mom said...

This sounds tempting! But being the Southern I am, you have got to call them Grit Tots! I had NO idea what you were talking about! LOL I have never heard of grits called "polenta".

Chalk that up as learning something new...

Come by when you can...

Mhel said...

I love nibbles like this! Polentas are not available here in the Philippines. thanks goodness an Italian friend sent me a pack. I'll be making this... thanks for sharing!

Sharlene T. said...

Way too cool and perfect for the solar oven... thanks for the great recipe and for sharing... yum-yum...

Kim said...

This is such a fantastic use for leftover polenta, too! Thanks for the idea. I started stirring polenta at my father's side when I was very small (maybe 5 or 6 yrs. old). I also watched my Italian grandma make it (complete with her heavily accented narration) too many times to count. You can reduce the cooking time (and ease the burden on your poor arms) by reducing the amount of water. The minimum ratio is 2 parts water to 1 part cornmeal (I think your ratio was 3 to 1). You can go as high 4 to 1. The more water you use, the longer the cooking time and the smoother and creamier the end result will be. Coarser polenta (2 to 1 ratio) might work just fine for these tots. Another trick for shortening the cooking time is to start with boiling water in which case, the mixture will be very lumpy in the beginning but it will smooth out toward the end.

Tractor Mom-
Polenta is an Italian dish. In southern Italy, it's typically served as a substitute for pasta with red sauce on top. In the north, it's typically served with cheese, wild mushrooms, butter and herbs stirred in and more cheese (no sauce) on top. My mother's Ozark granny taught us to use milk instead of water when we make grits. I know some people use water or a combo of milk and water and call it "grits" but that wouldn't fly in my family! The all milk version is sooooo creamy but being a Southerner, you probably know about that!

Michelle said...

Kim, thank you for all of that! It's delicious and loved by the kids but the stirring was a killer!

Miss Meat and Potatoes said...

These look great! What a nice alternative to potatoes/fries. Thanks for sharing and congrats on grocery day coming up:)

Magic of Spice said...

I love these...delicious bites :)

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