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Jul 8, 2008 04:47 PM

Polenta question

I have been buying the "log" of polenta (sort of like a log of goat cheese, same shape) at Trader Joe's to make polenta parmesan. It slices easily, and the rounds are nice little bases for the sauce and cheese.
Now, I would like to make Flexitarian Table's polenta with corn and roasted tomatoes. How can I adapt the log of polenta to that recipe? Do I boil the polenta? Should I just mash it up?
Any thoughts or suggestions are appreciated.

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  1. I'm sorry, but I have no idea about how "Flexitarian Table's polenta with corn and roasted tomatoes" is served up. If your Trader Joe log of polenta is already formed, then, I'm thinking that it's precooked for convenience? Most secondary polenta recipes (where you're not eating a freshly cooked free-form serving of it) work with the startchy firmness that polenta has once it's set up. You might try mashing it with a little chicken stock to free it from the formed shape and then nuking it to see if it will loosen up and using it from that stage in another recipe.

    1. You can definitely loosen TJ's polenta - crumble the log in a pot, add water/stock and stir at medium/low heat until it reaches a creamy consistency. The other option would be to make your own polenta, which would probably take just as much time. The key, according to my father, is to stir really well. Good luck!

      1. there is an easier solution use instant polenta 1,3 or 5 minute,several brands to choose from,all pretty good.Then you can control texture as well as shape.The insant pre-cooked handles easily,and not perishable,think couscous.

        1. I assume your talking about the cookbook, "Flexitarian Table" . I don't have a copy of it so I can't help much without looking at the recipe. If it's only the polenta component of the recipe that's causing confusion (I'm surprised the book wouldn't include cooking methods for that ingredient) and if crumbling prepared polenta is a valid step in the process, you certainly could use TJ's prepared polenta log. Whether you boil it, mash it up or crumble it should be stipulated in the printed recipe.

          1. I used to use the TJ's log-o-polenta all the time until I discovered how really truly fast and simple (and better tasting) homemade polenta is. It's really really super easy and quick, even if you don't go for the instant kind. Give it a try!

            I do the non-instant polenta. Saute some onions in a pot (or don't, if you don't like 'em), once softened add 4 parts chicken broth/stock (veg broth is fine too) and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add 1 part dry polenta. Reduce to low simmer, stir not-infrequently, and remove from heat when it stops being soupy (for me, this is about 15 min). Throw in any other herbs/spices/veg/cheese/whatever you want (I like corn kernels, or garlic and rosemary, etc), stir to combine, and either eat as-is in its slightly mushy state, or pour into a low rimmed pan to cool. Once it cools, it stiffens up, and you can cut squares of it for use as a base for sauces and cheese. Or you can fry the squares. Or bake them with accompaniments. Whatever strikes your fancy!

            1 Reply
            1. re: litchick

              Amen, litchick. Please do not attempt to use the log and "go back in time" by trying to return it to it's previous soft, creamy goodness. The idea of that is just "against the grain" (sorry, I had to say it). Once polenta solidifies, there really should be no going back.

              It really is ridiculously easy to make your own polenta. So much so, that you'll be shocked if you give it a try. I love Marcella Hazan's recipe for no stir polenta (it should be call "little stir", cuz you have to stir a little). It has 3 ingredients; water, salt & polenta or coarse cornmeal. You can add to it, whatever you like.

              As litchick suggests, a good way to have solidified, leftover polenta is cut up into small squares and fried or baked. For breakfast it is wonderful!