Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Polenta Rounds with Caramelized Onion, Prosciutto & Provolone

I’ve always liked Polenta.  It’s an awesome base for just about any topping.  You can eat it in so many different forms, but grilled or baked is my favorite.  This recipe is neither grilled or baked, but pretty darn fast and easy.  And the caramelized onion……. to die for!

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Polenta takes a long time to cook, typically simmering in four to five times its volume of watery liquid for about 45 minutes with almost constant stirring, necessary for even gelatinization of the starch. There are alternative cooking techniques meant to speed up the process, or not to require supervision. Quick-cooking (pre-cooked, instant) polenta is widely used and can be prepared in a few minutes; it is considered inferior to cooking polenta from unprocessed cornmeal.

But I used it anyway~!

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Ingredients

(makes roughly 24 rounds)

2 cups milk

2 cups water

1-1/2 cups polenta

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/2 teaspoon of soft butter for your hands, (optional)

3 cups chopped onion

2 tsp butter

2/3 cups brown sugar

8 oz mozzarella

1/4 lb prosciutto  sliced thin

just enough shaved aged provolone to top about 24 rounds

Preparation:

Bring the milk and water just to a boil in a large saucepan. Slowly stream in the polenta while stirring constantly. Dumping the polenta in will result in lumps.  Stir in the salt and turn down the heat a bit if needed (you don't want the polenta to scorch). Continue stirring until the polenta thickens up.  If using the usual store bought polenta this should take a few minutes. Stir in the cheese.

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Remove from heat and spread out 1/2-inch thick onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.  At this point you could use a wooden spoon or a spatula  to smooth it out, but I waited a couple of minutes till it was slightly cooler then rubbed little soft butter on my hands and smoothed it out that way. Chill in a refrigerator for at least an hour till completely cool.  Your polenta can be made the day before as well.

While your polenta is cooling caramelize your onions with the butter and brown sugar over medium heat.  Once they start to cook, lower the heat to prevent them from burning.  Stir frequently.  Caramelizing onions is a slow process and should be done over low heat until you reach the desired softness and sweetness.

DSCN4046aThey’ll look very brown and taste very sweet when they’re done.

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I used about a 2” cookie cutter for my rounds.  I thought they were the perfect size to accommodate all the toppings.  I got about 24 rounds with this size.

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Top the rounds with your caramelized onions then a small bit of mozzarella cheese.

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At this time I popped them under the broiler for less than 5 minutes just to get the cheese to melt.

When the cheese is melted just enough not to have it run all over the onions, add a small cut slice of prosciutto and a shaved slice of aged provolone.

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This appetizer was travelling with me, so I brought them in the tray as pictured above.  When we got there we popped them in the oven again for about 10 minutes.  They were delicious warm, but when they cooled down again we were still eating them.  

Warm or cold, these are to die for.

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