SOFT POLENTA WITH ASIAGO CHEESE
From: Celebrating the Seasons by John Littlewood
Easy, versatile, comforting—polenta is truly a food for all seasons.
Serves 6 to 8
• 2 cups whole or low-fat milk
• 2 cups water or stock
• 1/3 cup minced yellow onion
• 1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
• 3/4 cup polenta
• 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 1/4 cup freshly grated Asiago cheese
• 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1. Bring milk, water, onion, and garlic to a boil in a heavy saucepan, then pour in polenta while whisking rapidly. Reduce heat to low and simmer, whisking frequently, for about 5 minutes.
2. Remove from heat and stir in butter, cheese, and salt. Serve immediately, or cover and keep warm for up to 30 minutes before serving.
* For a reduced-fat version, omit butter and add another 1/4 cup water; and omit cheese and add another 1/4 teaspoon salt.
* Imported Parmesan cheese may be substituted for Asiago, but it is much more expensive.
* If polenta seems too firm, whisk in a little water.
* For soft polenta, use a 5-to-1 ratio, or 5 parts liquid of choice to 1 part polenta. For firm polenta (that can be chilled and cut into shapes), use a 4-to-1 ratio, or 4 parts liquid of choice to 1 part polenta.
* There are many ways to serve polenta: mix or top with roasted poblano chiles (whole or pureed), bell peppers, dried chile puree, marinara, or basil pesto; for "lasagne," layer with grilled vegetables and cheese, and bake; for a Gratin, cut into shapes, "shingle" in an oiled baking pan, top with cheese sauce, and bake; cut into shapes, brush with olive oil, and grill; or for a finger food, cut into little rounds, scoop a depression out of the top with a melon bailer, fill with ingredients of choice, and bake.
* Leftover polenta can be microwaved with a little liquid; or to return it to a creamy consistency, chop it, then heat slowly while whisking with some liquid.