In an effort to help you channel my canapes sweatshop, I’m sharing a couple of my catering menu favorites. I make these little polenta bites so often, I’m frankly shocked that I’ve never shared the recipe here or on BGSK. They are a great option if you’re looking to make, say, 100 or so bites. You simply whip up a large batch of polenta, turn it out onto a greased sheet pan, let it cool overnight, then cut into rounds and bake away.
Over the years, I’ve gone from cutting them into squares, to large 3-inch circles. But I’ve discovered, as with most finger food, that the smaller the bite, the more popular it becomes. Just a little taste of consumer food psychology, as evidenced by the thousands of women who spend $1 on a Baked By Melissa cupcake the size of their thumbnail.
Check them out below pictured alongside Roasted Cauliflower with Romesco, Romaine and Beet Salad, and Pumpkin Wedges with Lime and Cotija. This was part of a tasting I did for a new boutique concierge company I’m going to be working with, and of all the veggie deliciousness, the co-founders truly freaked out over the polenta bites.
If I’m coming up on a busy patch, like right now, I’ll make these bites in the evening hours then cut them the next morning. You can make them weeks in advance. Simply arrange the rounds in a Tupperware and freeze them until ready to use. You can bake them off the same way as specified in the recipe, just know it will take a little longer to get the crispy effect when starting with frozen polenta.
In one of our Chef Race press interviews I was asked what the weirdest thing I had in my freezer was. The answer: polenta bites. They’re so popular, it seems like I am always making them in advance for an event. In fact, I finally got around to cleaning out my freezer after Sandy. Everything spoiled, but by the time I got back to my apartment after the power had been turned back on, all my containers had re-frozen again. I didn’t want to throw away my Tupperware, so this weekend I went through the process of letting everything unfreeze in my sink and throwing it away. I was very sad to have to chuck about 100 polenta bites that could have proved very useful this week.
So I hope you’ll join me in some late-night polenta action. It’s on the sweatshop schedule for tomorrow night. You make even catch a glimpse of the stages on instagram – or at least evidence of last night’s latkes factory.
Hope you’re partying on and drinking lots of eggnog!
Crispy Polenta Bites with Ricotta and Truffle Honey
Makes about 50 bites
1 quart water or chicken stock
1 quart milk
2 cups polenta
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups ricotta
¼ cup honey
1 teaspoon truffle oil
1. Butter or grease a 18 x 13 x 1 baking sheet. Clear a shelf in the fridge and line it with a towel.
2. In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, heat the water or stock and the milk over a medium high flame until it comes to a simmer. Be careful, the milk tends to foam up and spill over, so make sure you pay attention as the liquid begins to start steaming. As soon as the milk mixture is beginning to bubble, turn the flame down to medium-low and pour in the polenta in an even stream. Whisk constantly as the polenta simmers in the milk until thick as porridge, about 10 minutes.
3. Add the salt and butter and continue to cook until the polenta is thick enough to stick to the whisk when you lift it up, about 10 minutes more.
4. Pour the polenta into the prepared pan and smooth it into an even layer with a spatula. Chill the polenta in the fridge, uncovered, until cool and very firm, at least 2 hours or overnight. Note (if overnight, cover the pan with plastic wrap once it’s cooled.)
5. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
6. Using a 1 1/2-inch round cutter, cut the polenta into bite-sized circles and transfer them to the parchment-lined baking sheets, leaving a little space between each one. You can toss the scraps or figure out some other creative use for them.
7. Bake the polenta in the oven until golden brown on the top and crispy, about 30 to 40 minutes.
8. Meanwhile, combine the honey and truffle oil in a small bowl. If you want a more pronounced truffle taste, add a few more drops of oil.
9. Arrange the crispy polenta on a serving platter and drizzle each bite with a little truffle honey and top with a teaspoon or so of ricotta. Serve immediately.