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Give these Sour Cream ,Cheddar and Chives Polenta Cakes a try – it’s not as difficult as you might think!
I made these yummy cheddar cheese and sour cream polenta cakes with instant polenta. There are two kinds of polenta:
1. Coarse cornmeal polenta: takes about 45 minutes to cook (much like risotto); requires a constant amount of stirring and watching
2. Instant polenta: Precooked; takes about 5 minutes to prepare.
Note: when I say pre-cooked I don’t mean the log shaped forms of polenta you may have seen in the market. It is corn meal that actually needs to be prepared in salted boiling water. See below….
Living in a predominantly Italian-American area of the country most supermarket shelves are stocked with Italian products. If you’ve never seen polenta/instant polenta in your local market you will be able to find some great brands similar to the one shown above on Amazon.com.
I’m not so sure you will find this recipe of polenta in any Italian cookbook but it sure is good. I made these savory polenta cakes as an alternative to mashed potatoes and served them with braised short ribs. I also came up with this recipe to use up some of the Polenta I had leftover from the Chicken Alla Ciao post from a while back.
A few tips on cooking polenta:
- use a 4 -1 (liquid:polenta) ratio.
- Add the Polenta gradually to salted boiling water and whisk/stir in between each addition ( I added 1/3 at a time).
- If you don’t stir polenta it will become lumpy(this goes for instant as well)
- The polenta is cooked when it pulls away from the side of the pot and looks creamy like mashed potatoes.
- As an alternative to water, you can prepare polenta in milk or cream for a richer flavor.
This particular recipe for polenta cakes is obviously not one I got from either of my Italian Mammas but I used some of their cooking tips as I pulled it all it together. After cooking Polenta in salted boiling water follow these steps:
- add the butter, a touch of heavy cream, sour cream and whisk it all together.
- Then add the cheddar cheese and the chives.
NOTE: I go easy on the chives in this recipe because of my picky eaters (ok PICKY eater – if you’ve been reading the blog you know who the guilty party is – and no it is not my kids)!
OPTIONAL: At this point you could stop and serve this polenta warm in a bowl. In the Northern part of Italy polenta is often served as as a first course (like pasta would be in other regions). They serve it with butter, cheese, or tomato sauce. In the southern part of Italy (in the Irpinia region) they harden and roast the polenta in a well oiled pan in the oven with sausage, pecorino or vegetables, and even lard (this is called Migliazza). Alternatively, you could also serve the polenta with some braised meats or even chili.
3. To continue on making the polenta cakes, simply leave the polenta to harden for abut 15 minutes or so. Note: I let the polenta sit to be overly cautious since the pan I use has a removable bottom, I didn’t want to take a chance of pouring the polenta in while still fluid, and risk leaking. So I let it harden a bit and then scooped it in.
4. Grease a muffin pan/cheesecake pan. I used the Norpro Nonstick Small Cheesecake Pan
with removable bottom. Preheat your oven. Then fill each well about 1/2 to 3/4’s full.
5. After filling each well I went over the tops with the back of a spoon to smooth them out.
You can opt to add a little extra cheddar cheese on top of each or leave it plain.
6. Place pan in the oven and cook for about 15-20 minutes, or until they look roasted. Remove pan from oven and let cool. WARNING: The pan is very hot so you have to be very careful removing the polenta cakes. LET THE PAN COOL BEFORE YOU TRY TO REMOVE THE CAKES. Once cooled off, hold the pan with one hand, use the other hand to push up the disc from the bottom as high as you can, careful not to burn yourself, then grab the bottom rim and flip over upside down to a platter and remove the disc.
I prefer the smoother bottom so I leave mine bottom side up (which is the smooth side).
7. Optional: take two long chives, tie them together and then wrap around the Polenta Cakes.
Below,I plated mine with short ribs and a dollop of sour cream and tied a chive around the middle of the polenta.
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Here’s the recipe – Click on the SHARE button below!
Cheddar Cheese, Sour Cream and Chive Polenta Cakes
- 1 Cup of instant polenta
- 4 cups of salted water
- 1/2 stick butter
- 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- cup OPTIONAL: 1/4of heavy cream
- 1-2 Tablespoons of chopped chives
- Cooking Spray
- Cheesecake Pan/Muffin Pan
- 1.Prepare polenta according to package directions
- 2.When cooked add the butter,heavy cream,cheddar cheese, and chives
- 3.Mix all ingredients thoroughly to combine
- 4.Let sit about 15-20 minutes to harden
- 5.Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F
- 6.Thoroughly grease a small cheesecake pan with cooking spray
- 7.Add dollops of polenta into each well until filled about 3/4 of the way
- 8.With the back of spoon smooth out the tops of each
- 9.Bake in the oven, middle rack, for about 20 minutes or until lightly browned and set
- 10. Once cooled enough to handle, carefully remove the polenta cakes from the pan and serve as desired.
- Decorate: To decorate your polenta cakes with chives you can take 2 long chives and carefully tie them together - then wrap around the center of the cakes and tie again. Do not pull with too much pressure or the chives will snap.