If you ever have left-over mashed potatoes or polenta, the best way to finish it is to create some patties and fry them in butter or oil. It’ll transform left-overs into something special and new.
Polenta cakes are made from cut-out squares of chilled polenta. Chilled polenta firms up pretty well. Just make sure you spread the polenta into a layer that is no more than 1-inch thick. You can deep-fry the polenta in oil, or just brown them in pan with a little butter and oil for a healthier version. It’ll crisp up the edges of the cakes nicely. If your polenta cakes are not browning, you either do not have the heat hot enough, have enough oil, or the cakes themselves are too thick. Try switching out for another type of pan, too, to see if a stainless steel pan or nonstick pan works better for you. Make sure the oil is hot before you place your cakes in the pan, too. Don’t put the cakes in cold oil–that’ll just slow things down and the cakes will soak up all the oil before they get browned.
So you’re gonna need some polenta already made… Check out my recipe for basic polenta.
This is what yummy polenta looks like.
The day before, pour the polenta into a butter dish.
Spread the polenta into a layer no more than 1 inch thick. Then cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Here’s what you should end up with! Smooth chilled polenta.
Now cut up the chilled polenta into small squares. I made 2 inch X 2 inch squares.
Just like that.
Now remove the squares and prepare them for a nice quick bath of hot oil.
Grab a pan, heat it up, and add some oil. And a pat of butter if you so desire.
Shake the oil around…
Once the pan is pretty hot, put in your cakes.
Cook the sides for about 5 minutes, or just until they’re nice and crisped and browned.
You can cook the four sides of the cakes, too. They don’t take too long to crisp.
That is what beautiful golden brown looks like. Add more oil to the pan if you need to.
Serve them hot with a nice sprinkling of Parmesan cheese. You can put them on a salad, serve them as a side to a nice steak or grilled chicken breast, or just eat them plain with marinara sauce!
Total time: 16 minutes
Prep: 1 min
Cook: 15 min
Prepared polenta, chilled overnight
Grated parmesan cheese (optional)
Pour prepared polenta into a deep dish, spreading polenta evenly to achieve a 1-inch layer of polenta. Layer of polenta should be no thicker than 1 inch and no thinner than ½ inch. Chill overnight.
Cut chilled polenta into 2 by 2 inch squares. Heat 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat, or just enough to coat the bottom of your pan. Place polenta squares in pan, being careful not to overcrowd pan. Cook polenta cakes for at least 5 minutes on each side, or until golden brown and crisp. Cook the side edges of the polenta squares just until crisp, about 30 seconds for each edge. Serve immediately. Sprinkle grated parmesan cheese, if desired.