After the delicious results of Molly Katzen’s polenta pie, I’ve been hellbent on attempting a jonnycake-like recipe for fried polenta cakes. I started off fully intending on posting the recipe, but the Kitchen Fates had other things in mind. One hour, much frustration, and a ton of improvisation later, I managed to make a pretty decent meal. But… it was a trial.
To go with the polenta cakes, I chopped up some carnival squash (left) and a sweet potato (right) and set them to roast. Nothing fancy when it came to seasoning, just some Creole seasoning and onion salt, plus a little paprika.
I measured out a cup of cornmeal and added a tablespoon of sugar. I whisked this into a cold cup of water, then added the mixture to 3 cups of boiling water. Then I stirred and stirred, waiting for the mixture to thicken. And I waited… and waited.
It got thick, no doubt about it. Thick enough for delicious cornmeal mush, but not fry-cake consistency. No problem, I thought. I’ll add two teaspoons of Xanathan Gum. But although it did get thicker, it was still not right. I added another teaspoon of Xanathan Gum. Nope, not good enough.
Frustrated, I thought maybe there was too much water to start out with, so I added three tablespoons worth of cornmeal. The consistency improved, so I added another tablespoon. When that didn’t seem to do the trick, I added three tablespoons of all-purpose flour.
Finally! Thick enough for frying. I turned off the heat and let the mixture cool. One problem – it was too sticky. A test cake fried, but even in the oil stuck too stubbornly to the pan. Simple fix – I added about a half a tablespoon of oil to the batter.
Mmm… finally, a fried polenta cake. Delicious, soft, a little sweet. A couple of tips for frying polenta:
– Keep the pan oiled but not too oily.
– Keep the pan really hot. You’ll want to start off with the heat high then turn it down to medium about halfway through. Still, keep that pan hot if you want a nice fried crust to form on the cake.
– As with pancakes or any other pan-fried cake, flip once.
Midway through the polenta cake process, I switched the oven to warm to keep the roasted vegetables from overcooking. After nearly an hour and a half of preparation and cooking time, the meal was ready to eat.