Super Bowl 50 is right around the corner, so surely you’re planning your Super Bowl feast already, right? For this year’s big game, I’m going to re-make some recipes I created over the past few years. Football Deviled Eggs, which has over 2K re-pins on Pinterest, turned regular deviled eggs up a notch with green onion “laces.” Then there were Espresso Football Truffles, with enough coffee notes to keep you awake throughout the entire football season.
But with all the similar football-themed and football-shaped recipes over the internet, I really wanted to make something new but still familiar for everybody. So, polenta footballs came to me in a random daydream last week.
These polenta footballs are not only simple to make, but they’re festive, adorable, and bite-sized. And they’re also super crispy and fried. Those are the most important qualities of all delicious Super Bowl recipes. It’s no wonder foods like chicken wings are always such a hit. Make these polenta footballs and you’ll be a hit, too!
Start by making a standard polenta recipe and spreading the polenta into a greased square baking pan so that it is about 3/4-inch deep. Allow to rest at room temperature for about 1 hour until the polenta is firm and solid.
Using a football cookie cutter (click for directions here on how to make one), cut out some bite-sized pieces.
Just like that.
If you can, remove the shapes from the pan without breaking apart the pieces.
Or, do as I do and flip the entire thing over onto a plate. Feel free to nibble on the excess polenta, or toss with some vegetables to make an easy salad.
Well, that was easy, wasn’t it!?
Fill a small pot with about 2 inches of frying oil. Canola or vegetable oils work, as does peanut oil. As always, be careful when frying indoors. Don’t use a pot with a long handle that might tip the pot over accidentally. And open windows for plenty of ventilation.
Once the oil reaches about 375 degrees F, the standard frying temperature, use a spider strainer and drop in the footballs one at a time. Not sure if it’s hot enough? Throw a piece of extra polenta in there. Does it start bubbling and sizzling immediately? But not violently? The oil is about ready at that point.
Don’t overcrowd the pot, or else your frying oil’s temperature will drop drastically and make your food taste greasy.
The footballs should fry for about 5 minutes, or just until they are lightly golden brown and crisp. Make sure you don’t overcook or burn them!
Drain the footballs on a paper towel-lined plate and sprinkle immediately with a little salt.
As the footballs cool, let’s get ready to pipe on some laces. Using either sour cream, ricotta cheese, of softened cream cheese (really whichever one you have in your fridge), fill a small ziplock bag with the cream, squeeze it all over to one corner, and snip a tiny bit off the bag.
After the polenta footballs have cooled for at least 5 minutes, start piping on the laces. If the footballs are still too hot, allow them to cool longer. Otherwise, the heat will melt the cream and make everything look ugly.
I like to pipe the white lines on the side first.
Then go for the middle laces.
Complete the football with perpendicular lines to make the stitches perfect.
I was using ricotta before, but sour cream makes even neater lines!
Polenta Football Recipe
Total time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Prep: 1 hr 15 min
Cook: 15 min
Yield: 12 pieces
1 cup cornmeal
Vegetable oil (or peanut oil) for frying
Sour cream (substitutes: ricotta cheese or softened cream cheese)
Prepared marinara sauce
In a medium-size pot over high heat, bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add 1 teaspoon salt. While stirring with a wire whisk or wooden spoon, slowly add cornmeal into water. Continue whisking as polenta mixture thickens, about 2 minutes. Turn heat to medium low and cook for at least 10 minutes, stirring about every minute or so. Cook polenta no longer than 15 minutes.
Add about 4 tablespoons of butter to pot and stir well. Pour polenta into a greased square baking pan (8 inches by 8 inches), spreading polenta evenly for about 3/4-inch thickness all around. Allow to cool on counter for about 1 hour, until polenta is firm and cool enough to handle by hand.
Invert the cooled polenta onto a flat surface and use a football cookie cutter to cut out about 12 footballs. Remove excess polenta and save for snacking.
Fill a small to medium-sized pot with enough frying oil so there is about 2 inches deep of oil. Heat oil over medium heat until the temperature reaches 375 degrees F. Using tongs or a spider strainer, being careful not to break the polenta shapes, place one at a time in the hot oil. Do not overcrowd the pan to ensure the temperature stays as constant as possible. Fry for about 5 minutes, or until the polenta footballs are a light golden brown.
Carefully remove the polenta shapes and place on a paper towel-lined plate to drain the excess oil. Sprinkle immediately with a little salt for flavor. Continue until all polenta footballs are fried and drained. Allow polenta footballs to cool for at least 5 minutes before continuing with decoration.
Fill a small ziplock bag with your choice of sour cream, ricotta cheese, or softened cream cheese. Cut a very small corner of the bag off to pipe the laces on the football shapes. Ensure the polenta footballs are not too hot before piping, or the cream will melt quickly. Starting at the two pointed ends of the football, pipe on two curve sides. Pipe one long lace in middle of the football, and finish with about three small laces perpendicular to the long lace.
Serve immediately with prepared marinara of your choice. To prepare in advance, fry all the polenta shapes, drain off excess oil, and place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Place in a 200 degrees F oven to keep warm until ready to serve, and then pipe on sour cream laces.