Panko crumbs add a crisp exterior to squares of polenta. Top with your favourite sauce or a tangy salad.
1 litre (about 2 pints US / 1¾ pints UK) water 250ml (about 9 fluid oz) full-fat whole milk 1¼ tsp salt 250g (about 9 oz) ‘Instant’ polenta 3 Tbsp butter 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving Freshly grated nutmeg 1 cup panko crumbs, crushed ¼ cup olive oil, or more Flaky sea salt Freshly ground black pepper to taste Basil leaves Pasta sauce of your choice, such as porcini or puttanesca
1 Bring the water and milk to the boil in a wide saucepan (NOT a tall and narrow pan). Add salt, then gradually sprinkle in the polenta. Stir continuously, using a long-handled wooden spoon (it’s a good idea to protect your hand from the ‘plopping’ polenta as it cooks, either with an oven glove or tea towel). If you add the polenta too fast, it will form lumps (if this happens, fish them out as they rarely break down during cooking). Once all the polenta is added, turn the heat to low and cook, giving 3-4 good stirs every 20 seconds or so, for 4-5 minutes, or according to packet recommendations.
2 When polenta is cooked, beat in butter and parmesan cheese and a little freshly grated nutmeg to taste. Immediately tip it onto a large damp tray and spread flat to 1cm (about ½”) thick. Work quickly because it soon sets (it is best done with a wet knife). Leave until cool.
3 Cut polenta into large squares. Coat the squares of polenta with panko crumbs. Heat oil in a large frying pan (skillet) over a medium high heat. Slip in several squares of polenta, or enough to fill the pan without the pieces touching each other. Fry until a good golden brown on both sides, turning carefully with a spatula and a fork. Transfer to a plate when done and sprinkle with sea salt. Keep warm in a heated oven while cooking the rest of the polenta.
4 When all the polenta is cooked, dish onto heated plates, spoon sauce over and scatter with parmesan. Grind over a little pepper and garnish with basil leaves. Serve immediately.
See Porcini Sauce Puttanesca Sauce