70 – Griddled Polenta with Chicken Sausage and Mushrooms

Clearly I’m no good at naming things. This recipe should probably have some neatly summarized title like “Poultry and Porcini-Topped Polenta” or something nice and tidy like that. Unfortunately, I have a predisposition towards overcomplicating and over-explaining pretty much everything. It’s actually hard for me to leave it as short as it currently is and not add something like, “…Not to Mention Diced Tomatoes and a Basil Garnish Just Like One Might Expect on Bruschetta”. Also, I didn’t technically use Porcini mushrooms… Minor details, right?

A lackluster recipe name is one thing, but a blog name is a completely different beast. A blog name sticks with you for (hopefully) a long time, so it’s best to get it right the first time around. I, unfortunately, did not. Maybe I shouldn’t be saying this until I’ve come up with another name and am far along in the rebranding process, but I very much dislike what I settled on, this “From James to Jamie”. It seemed novel at first, and I had high hopes of attracting Jamie Oliver’s attention with my ode to him, but my thinking has changed dramatically since gaining a bit of traction in the blogosphere.

Not only have I moved further and further away from basing the majority of my cooking on Mr. Oliver’s recipes (though I still love his stuff), thereby making the name less and less applicable, but…well…the name has a certain connotation that I didn’t notice initially. Ever since Bruce Jenner became Caitlyn Jenner, I can’t help but wonder if readers hear my blog name and wonder if I’m transitioning from a man to a woman. I’m not, for the record.

So, I’m looking for new names to go by. It’s very exciting for me, as I’m also hoping to do a number of upgrades once I make the switch: a better WordPress theme, my own domain name, and linked social media accounts used solely for food blogging. Alas, I’m still spitballing different ideas with my wife, unable to commit to a new moniker as of yet. I plan on sharing some of my ideas on here soon to see what others – especially my fellow food bloggers – think, in the hopes that the decision will be made easier. So with that being said, if you’re interested in giving your opinion on what my new blog name should be called, please check back in a few days for my most recent post, where I’ll be stating a shortlist of potential names for your critiquing pleasure.

Until then, here’s the recipe for last night’s dinner, which was inspired by both Giada De Laurentiis and Gordon Ramsay. The idea to make polenta, and to opt for squares with crispy sides and a smooth center, came from the entrée I had this past weekend at Tinhorn Creek’s Miradoro restaurant. Though my version isn’t perfected to the point that theirs is (they seem to have just the right balance of crispy and smooth), it was absolutely delicious. When I make it again, I plan to experiment a bit more with cooking time, seeing if I can make the centre of the polenta squares just a tiny bit creamier. As well, I hope to also test different toppings for the polenta, including sauces. Don’t get me wrong – this dinner was delicious, and one of my wife’s favourites so far, but I’m excited by the potential to take this griddled polenta tapa idea in a bunch of different directions.


Griddled Polenta Topped with Chicken Sausage and Mushrooms

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cups cornmeal2015-07-28 19.44.06
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 5-10 cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 4 smoked Italian-style chicken sausage, thinly sliced
  • 2-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 2 vine-ripened tomatoes, diced
  • 2-3 tbsp. flour
  • shaved parmesan
  • basil, for garnish

Directions:

  • Place the water in a medium-sized pot and bring to a boil
  • Add the salt, then slowly pour in the cornmeal, stirring constantly until it has all been added.
  • Reduce the heat to low, stirring often for 15 minutes. The polenta will thicken considerably in this time.
  • Remove the cooked polenta to a casserole dish lightly brushed with olive oil. Spread the polenta out evenly in the dish, smoothing with a spatula or knife. Ensure you select a dish such that the polenta is at least an inch thick.
  • Let the polenta rest for 30 minutes to firm up.
  • After the polenta has been resting for about 20 minutes, get started on the topping. Place a pan over medium heat and add a few lugs of oil. Toss in the chicken and the peppers and begin sautéing.
  • As the mushrooms start to brown, add in the garlic and sauté for another couple of minutes.
  • Add the butter and melt it down completely, continuing to stir. Place on low heat and cover, just keeping it warm until the polenta is ready.
  • On a griddle, heat a few lugs of oil over medium-high to high heat. Cut out cubes of the polenta, half them by slicing through the middle horizontally, and coat the tops and bottoms lightly with flour.
  • Place the polenta squares on the griddle, moving them around to ensure the bottoms are coated with oil. Cook for 3-4 minutes, before flipping and repeating.
  • Remove the polenta to plates once both sides are crispy, and top with the sausage and peppers, the parmesan, and the tomatoes. Chiffonade the basil and add it on top as a garnish.

Serves 4


******************* (Updated with extra/better photos) ******************

Heated up some of these bad boys for lunch, and they were just as delicious as the night before. I’d combined the tomatoes with the sausage and peppers, so it was all microwaved together, and I think I might actually prefer the tomatoes being heated as well. The one thing I’ll definitely consider the next time I make these is including more sausage and mushrooms, as there was a bit of extra polenta left after all the savoury toppings were finished off. Anyways, I’m always working on my plating and photos, so I took a few extra snaps to share:

2015-07-29 13.23.04

2015-07-29 13.28.01

Griddled Polenta

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