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Three different ways to make polenta; a velvety traditional one with a spicy & smoky pulled pork, a grilled one for the BBQ or some crispy baked fries served with a garlic-yogurt dip. polenta 3 ways pin

polenta pin

This post is about three different ways to make polenta, three different textures going from smooth to crunchy. I always make too much polenta, so I usually spread the leftovers in a rectangular pyrex, cover it with plastic wrap and leave it in the fridge. The next day you can use the compacted or “cake like” polenta and make a whole different meal with it by whether grilling it “steak style” on the BBQ or baking sticks of it until getting crunchy polenta fries.

 

Spicy & Smoky pulled pork on polenta

Different types of polenta

The perfect polenta is smooth and shiny, similar to the texture of a velvety mashed potato. Some put cream in it, others milk or even broth but most purists would tell you simply water is needed. On the market, they sell whether instant polenta, polenta or cornmeal. The difference here is mainly the way they ground the corn meal resulting in different thickness which affects the cooking time and texture of the final product. Sometimes the “instant” polenta is a pre cooked polenta turned back into fine sand texture. This last one is ready in just 3 minutes!

polenta fries

The art of polenta

Let’s make it clear: polenta is an art and takes quite a while to make… about 50 minutes and some serious arm muscles to achieve the perfect consistency.  The technique is basically turning every 5 minutes the polenta until ultra smooth and the sides don’t stick to the pot anymore. The “hard core” purists would tell you to use solely a wooden spoon and always turn the polenta in the same direction… but I’m pretty sure it’s gibberish. If you don’t have time or muscles… don’t despair, there is a trick to help shorten the cooking process by half. Simply soak the cornmeal/Polenta in water for a few hours before cooking it. However if you just want to make “polenta fries” or grilled polenta, the “instant” version is great for it! It cooks rapidly and holds better once cold, so less chance to break it.

 

Here are the three recipes; for the smooth polenta I’ve used a delicious recipe of Spicy & Smoky Pulled Pork from fellow Aussie blogger Blogtastic Food . (check it out here), for the grilled polenta, I’ve simply served it with grilled zucchinis slices and a salad. For the fries a simple garlic-lime yogurt dip but it could be any dip you like.

 


Traditional polenta

Makes 4-5 portions | Difficulty: easy (hard for the arm) | Preparation: 50 minutes (instant: 3 to 10 minutes)

Spicy & Smoky pulled pork on polentaIngredients
  • 120g (3/4 cup) polenta (normal or instant)
  • 1 litre of water (a bit more for creamier polenta)
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 10g of butter or olive oil
  • parmesan *optional
Directions
Full time normal polenta
  1. Add the polenta and salt to cold water
  2. Heat up the polenta until first bubble appears and turn to low heat
  3. Stir every 5 minutes for about 50 minutes or until the sides of the polenta comes off the pot when stirring
  4. Add the butter and parmesan and serve
Half time normal polenta
  1. Soak the polenta in the water for a few hours
  2. Add the salt
  3. Bring the heat to the polenta and as soon as it makes a bubble, keep it on low heat and stir
  4. Stir every 5 minutes, for about 25-30 minutes, or until the sides of the polenta comes off the pot when stirring
  5. Add the butter and parmesan, serve
Instant polenta
  1. Depending on the packaging, follow instructions
Spicy & Smoky Pulled Pork

(check recipe here) on Blogtastic Food Blog


 

Grilled polenta

*if you want to skip the traditional smooth polenta and just get the compact polenta, simply use a “instant” type and omit the butter in the end.

Ingredients

Same as above

DirectionsGrilled polenta
  1. Add the warm or leftover polenta in a container to make about a 2-3cm thick polenta cake and cover with plastic wrap, leave in the fridge until needed
  2. Cut into big pieces
  3. Bring a grill pan or BBQ to high heat
  4. Spray a little oil on the grill surface and on the polenta
  5. Cook on each side for about 3-4 minutes
  6. Serve

 


Polenta fries

*if you want to skip the traditional smooth polenta and just get the compact polenta, simply use a “instant” type and omit the butter in the end.

Ingredients

Same as above

Polenta baked fries (1).jpgDirections
  1. Add the warm or leftover polenta in a container and cover with plastic wrap, leave in the fridge until needed
  2. Cut into sticks
  3. Lightly spray olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper
  4. Cook at 200°C (400F) for 12-15 minutes or until crispy and darker edges
  5. Serve with a dip

 


 

Enjoy!

Spicy & Smoky pulled pork on polenta

Extra tender Chipotle-Maple Pulled Pork cooked sous-vide served with fresh guacamole, black bean paste, corn tortilla and sour cream for a hot and sweet Mexican night!Chipotle-Maple Hot Tacos

Sweet and Spicy Mexican pulled pork tacos

This is my own version of spicy Mexican pulled pork tacos, with a Canadian flair to it of maple syrup. This particular recipe uses a sous-vide machine although it could easily be done in a slow cooker. The other day, while walking around my “Temple” called Santa Caterina Market, in Barcelona. I’ve ended up at my favorite pork butcher and got hypnotized by those skinless pork knuckles/ham hock, couldn’t resist the urge to try to make something special out of them. So here we are!

Pork knuckles / ham hock

Chipotle-Maple Pulled Pork Tacos

We don’t see many recipes around with this cut even though it’s divine tasting. It reminds me of pork cheek, the taste is somehow distinct, bolder and better in my opinion, above other cuts. Once perfectly cooked it becomes so tender, it falls apart easily plus it’s a way less fatty than let say pork belly… I already know the Germans (husby) love this cut, they make a popular roasted pork knuckle dish in Bavaria called Schweinshaxe. Delicious stuff, although you need the skin for this particular recipe.

Sous-vide

This cut of meat is essentially the elbows of the pork which contains lots of ligaments and tendons. For this reason the meat needs propre long and low temperature cooking in order to become extra tender and no better way to cook long and low than a sous-vide machine right? Of course the dish could be done in a crockpot or slow cooker for 1/4 of the time although the meat’s texture might change, less juicy and might be overcooked. I like sous-vide for this reason, the meat cooks to the perfect temperature guarantied and get cooked uniformly because the heat comes from all around while the slow cookers cook from the bottom part. However for this recipe I’ve used sous-vide method, slow cooker are great to make pulled pork too… simply add all the ingredient in the slow cooker and let it go for 5 hours at low temperature.

Chipotle-Maple Pulled Pork Tacos

I’ve always wanted to be a heat warrior like my siblings but in the end of the day I just have to accept that I’m weak. I do love some heat in my food but just cannot pass the “medium” level. That’s why I love to add a little sugar though those hot dishes of mine to calm the heat down and no better sweetener than my “home sweet home” maple syrup. This element bring a nice note to the dish, not powerful enough to make the meat sweet but enough to calm down all that heat and give the meat this extra layer of deliciousness… is that a word? Anyhow the maple syrup isn’t in everyone’s pantry so if you don’t have any simply substitute it for some honey.

So let’s start those tacos already!

 


Chipotle-Maple Pulled Pork Knuckles

Makes 10 tacos | Preparation: 48h | Difficulty: easy

IngredientsChipotle-Maple Pulled Pork
  • 2 pork knuckles/ham hock
  • 1 small onion finely chopped
  • 220g (1 small can) of chipotle in adobo
  • 1 lime (or 3 tbsp of apple vinegar)
  • 5 tbsp of maple syrup (or honey)
  • 1 garlic clove finely chopped
  • 1 tsp of smoked paprika
  • 5g butter
  • salt and pepper
Tacos sides
  • small corn tortillas
  • guacamole
  • black bean paste
  • sour cream
  • extra cilantro leaves
Directions
Sous-vide pork knuckles
  1. Add a touch of coarse salt and pepper to the skinless pork knuckles / ham hocks, add them to the plastic bag with the butter
  2. Sous-vide them (air tight bag) and let them 48 hours at 63°C (145F) for a tender result
  3. Once done with the help of a fork shred the meat and reserve
  4. Soften the onion in a small pan in a bit of olive oil and salt (5 minutes)
  5. Add to blender with 6 chipotles peppers from the can, 3 tbsp of the adobo sauce from the can and the rest of the ingredients, blend until homogeneous paste
  6. Mix the chipotle paste with the pulled pork and check the seasonning (salt and pepper)
  7. Serve with corn tortillas and sides

 

Enjoy!

Chipotle-Maple Pulled Pork Tacos