Crispy Polenta Bites with Sun-Dried Tomato Spread

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Makes 48 Polenta Triangles (enough for 8-12 people)
Adapted from: Bacon Nation

I was looking through my room the other day and came across a book titled Bacon Nation: 125 Irresistible Recipes. I don’t remember buying it, or even seeing it for that matter, but hey, 125 recipes worth of bacon is something you just don’t question.

If you’re unsure of what polenta is, it is cornmeal, typically used in Italian recipes,  cooked similarly to rice. It’s glorified grits. What I love about it is that there’s so many ways to cook it:you can just cook it and leave it be, or you can bake it afterwards, or deep fry it. Whatever you do, it’s guaranteed to turn out delicious.

These didn’t come out as thick as I wanted to. They were probably like a quarter inch thick. To make them thicker, you could either double the recipe (which I wouldn’t recommend because this recipe is already fairly large) or use a smaller baking pan.

~Olive oil, pr vegetable oil cooking spray
~4 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
~2 scallions, both white ad green parts, finely chopped
~3 large cloves garlic, minced
~1 cup quick-cooking polenta
~1/4 chipotle pepper, packed in adobo sauce, seeded and chopped (I skipped this)
~Freshly ground black pepper
~Sun-Dried Tomato Spread (I’ll post this recipe next)

Line the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking pan (Pyrex is fine) with parchment paper and coat the paper lightly with olive oil or vegetable oil cooking spray. Set the baking dish aside.

Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until it starts to brown and the fat starts to render; 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the scallions and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is lightly browned, the fat is rendered, and the scallions soften, about 5-8 minutes more.

Place 4 cups of water in a heavy-bottomed 4-quart saucepan, cover the pan, and bring to boil. Add 1 tablespoon of salt, reduce the heat to low, then add the polenta to the water in a very slow and steady stream while stirring with a wire whisk. Cook the polenta until it is soft and smooth; 4 to 5 minutes, whisking often to eliminate any lumps. Remove the pan from heat. Stir in the scallion and bacon mixture and the chipotle pepper. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt as necessary and black pepper to taste.

Pour the polenta into the prepared baking dish and refrigerate it, uncovered, until firm, about an hour. The polenta can be prepared up to this point and refrigerated overnight before cutting into triangles and baking it the next day.

About 30 minutes before serving, position racks in the center and lower thirds of the oven and preheat the oven to 450 F. Line 2 baking sheets with aluminum foil and coat each lightly with olive oil or vegetable oil cooking spray.

When the polenta is firm, using the tip of a paring knife, slice into 24 rectangles, then slice the rectangles into 48 triangles. Transfer the polenta triangles to the prepared baking sheets, arranging them about 1 inch apart.

Bake the polenta triangles until they are crisp and lightly browned, about 20 minutes, switching the positions of the baking sheets from the top rack to the bottom rack after 10 minutes.

Transfer the baked polenta triangles to a large serving platter and serve immediately topped with a small amount of the Sun-Dried Tomato Spread (recipe will be posted next!), if desired.

Happy dining!!


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