Grilled Polenta Cake

Grilled Polenta Cake
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by Chef Stefania Trimboli-Wright

For the Frontera Audubon event on May 12th I made a grilled polenta cake. Usually polenta is know for being this grits-like, creamy side dish. Since I can’t help working with fire, I threw that polenta on the grill. And the result? A crispy, charred outside and that familiar creamy inside. It worked.

Ingredients (for 6 servings)

  •  6 C. water
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  •  1 3/4 C yellow cornmeal
  • 3 Tb unsalted butter

Bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a heavy large saucepan. Add salt. Gradually whisk in the cornmeal. Reduce heat to low and cook until the mixture thickens and the cornmeal is tender, stirring often, about 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, add the butter and stire until melted. Other optional add ins at this time could be: cheese, herbs, spices but not entirely necessary.

Pour polenta onto a cookie sheet, wrap with plastic wrap and let cool in the fridge for at least a couple of hours, preferably overnight.

Take polenta out, cut into 2”x2” squares. Heat a cast iron griddle with or without grill marks, both work. When cast iron is hot, drizzle polenta with olive oil and put on the griddle. Don’t move the polenta until it comes off easily. About 7 minutes. It’s worth the time and patience to let the polenta sear and have that crispy crust. Flip over and sear the other side. Do the rest of them. Take off when both sides are to your liking, eat immediately.

I topped these cakes with some 18 hour smoked pork shoulder with coffee barbeque sauce but I realize not everyone has a smoker firing 24 hours a day. A good braised pork shoulder done in the oven or crock pot would work well with this. You can pretty much top it with whatever you’d like. Something that has been braised and has juice would be best since the polenta cake absorbs all that flavor. A good ratatouille would be great over this providing a filling vegan option (replacing butter with olive oil, or other oil of choice). This polenta cake is sure to become a favorite side for your next barbeque.

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