Ah, fried polenta. Such a simple, rustic, way to use up leftover polenta. Usually, whenever I have some leftover polenta, I pack it into a small square container and put it in the fridge for the next day. In the morning, I simply slice the polenta and fry it up in olive oil. This makes a great base for a topping of avocado, sautéed kale, and a soft boiled egg. YUM! But today, I made a huge pot of polenta just to then fry up and top with a wonderful sauté of wild mushrooms. My fried polenta with wild mushroom sauté was a perfect starter to our dinner and paired so well with the chicken my husband “roasted” in his Big Green Egg and a nice glass of red wine.
Seriously, this simple, rustic bite of deliciousness serves as a perfect hors d’oeuvres, party bite, or side dish served alongside your next meal.
This is a two part recipe. You use chilled polenta that has set up in the fridge. So if you have leftover polenta, this is a great way to use it up. Otherwise, like I did, simply make up a pot of polenta ahead of time.
Fried Polenta with a Wild Mushroom Sauté
- 4 cups of water
- 1 1/1 tablespoon of olive oil – I use basil infused olive oil. I love the extra layer of flavor the infused herb adds.
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cups of fine yellow cornmeal (polenta)
- 4 tablespoons of good olive oil for sautéing
- 1 lb. assorted wild mushrooms brushed clean and thinly sliced (Mushroom choices are many! Think of chanterelle, oyster, portobello, shiitake, shimeji, porcini, and of course the white button mushroom.)
- 2 shallots, finely diced
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
- Salt and pepper to taste
Polenta: Combine 4 cups of water with the basil infused olive oil and 1 teaspoon of salt into a medium stock pot or large saucepan. (Polenta bubbles and pops! Make sure you have some high sides on your pot.) Bring your water to a boil over medium-high heat. With the water boiling, slowly pour in your cornmeal. Using a long handled wooden spoon (Remember, polenta pops!), stir continuously until all of the cornmeal is mixed in. Pouring cornmeal in slowly is the key to not getting lumps. Once you have added all of the cornmeal, turn heat down to low. Continue stirring and cooking until mixture is thick and creamy. This can take anywhere from 20 – 30 minutes! It is important that you continue to stir throughout this process. The polenta is done when it pulls away from the sides of the pan.
Spread the polenta into a oiled 9×11 dish, loaf pan, or Pampered Chef Brownie Pan. Once set, you will be slicing or cutting the polenta into small squares or triangles. I love using my Pampered Chef Brownie Pan, because they all set up the same size. Let polenta cool completely and then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use. Polenta fries up best from a cold temperature.
Slice or cut the chilled polenta into small squares or triangles. Think brownie-sized squares or three- or four-bite sized triangles. in a large non-stick skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium or medium-high heat. You want the oil hot, but not smoking. Add polenta to hot oil and fry each side turning once with a spatula. You want each side to be lightly golden brown. This can take 2 – 5 minutes per side, depending on the heat of your oil. They should be slightly crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. Continue working in batches and keep fried polenta warm in a low oven (170 degrees) until ready to serve.
Wild Mushroom Sauté: Add remaining one tablespoon of olive oil to the large skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Add the sliced mushroom mixture and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in diced shallots, parsley, and fresh thyme. Continue sautíng until the mushrooms and shallots are tender, about 5 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Top each polenta bite with a spoon of the warm mushroom mixture.
Here is a delicious, award-winning, basil infused olive oil to try:
My Pampered Chef brownie pan came from my friend Sheila. You can order pans from her on her Pampered Chef web page. I love my pan!
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