I used to cook at a restaurant in Maine that served polenta in place of potatoes with meat dishes. Of all the exotic, complicated, and delicious things that were cooked at that place, it's this simple polenta I remember most--golden squares fried until crisp on the flat top griddle. The version of parmesan polenta we made there was decadent in the extreme, loaded with copious amounts of marscapone cheese, butter, and freshly grated parmesan. It needn't be quite so over the top, however, in order to be delicious.
This simpler version is made with just four ingredients: water, milk, polenta, parmesan. In order to fry the polenta you'll have to wait for it to cool, then slice it, coat it in flour, and fry it in a little bit of very hot olive oil. If you want to eat the polenta right away, just spoon it out of the pot to serve.
Crispy (or creamy) parmesan polenta
- 2 cups milk (full or low-fat)
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup polenta
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
Bring milk and water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Pour the polenta in a steady stream, whisking as you go to avoid lumps forming. Cook, stirring constantly, for five minutes or until thick. Season with salt and pepper, if you like (be careful as the parmesan will add a fair amount of salt on its own). Stir in parmesan. For creamy polenta serve immediately. For cripsy, spoon the polenta into a greased dish and smooth the surface with a spatula. Refrigerate or cool at room temperature until firm enough to slice.
Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet until shimmering. Meanwhile dredge polenta slices in flour. When oil is hot add the polenta and cook until golden brown and crisp (about two minutes). Flip and brown opposite side. Serve hot.