Polenta is a really traditional Italian dish, but it's not very common in America. If anything, its soupy cousin, grits, takes the main stage in the US.
But people really need to get on the polenta train! Not only is it fairly easy to make, it provides a hearty meal and can be customized to your tastes.
In this case, my tastes involved bacon.Bacon Polenta Recipe
While there are a number of ways to make bacon, this is the best and easiest way I know to make super-crispy
Start by getting a baking sheet and setting a wire rack on top of it. Then lay out your bacon on the wire rack.
The good thing about cooking bacon this way is the even heating all around. Also, the grease can drip away from the bacon – meaning it'll get really crispy.
After about 15 minutes in a 350 degree oven, you'll be left with some good looking bacon.
You can cook yours any way you want, but this is the best way in my opinion.
Once it's cool enough to handle, you can crumble it up and set it aside for later!
One more thing: Once your bacon is cooked, pour off about two tablespoons of the grease and set it aside.
Okay. On to the polenta!
Polenta is the same thing as grits, really. It might be labeled as either in the store. I like a coarser polenta that has plenty of texture, but you can use a finer one if you want.
The difference between grits and polenta is really just the amount of liquid used to cook them. Grits are served as a soupy texture, while polenta is allowed to firm up until it's solid.
You should refer to your packaging for exact liquid amounts, but a good rule of thumb is 3 cups of liquid to 1 cup of polenta. I used a half water, half milk mixture.
Bring your liquid to a simmer along with the salt, pepper, and bacon grease. When it's simmering, whisk in all the polenta. Continue to whisk to make sure the polenta doesn't burn on the bottom.
After a few minutes, your polenta should start to thicken nicely. Then you can add in the bacon!
Continue to cook this until the polenta is really thick. You'll need to switch from a whisk to a big spoon at some point. After about 5 to 10 more minutes of cooking, pour your thick polenta mixture into a baking dish that's been lightly buttered.
Stick this in the fridge to chill. It will firm up as it cools down. After at least an hour in the fridge you should be able to cut nice little squares of polenta!
Then add a few tablespoons of oil to a large skillet and sear the polenta for about 4 minutes per side. It should be a nice dark brown.
I like to sear my polenta with fried eggs, but it's traditionally served with some sort of tomato sauce.
This isn't a very hard dish to get down, but it does impress people just because it's not something that is made regularly. It's fantastic for a brunch because it makes a lot and is easy to reheat.
Oh. And it has bacon in it, which is a surefire winner!Nick doesn't really believe that bacon makes everything better, but it does make polenta better. Be sure to check out his blog Macheesmo and his Tablespoon profile.