I was very excited to make this recipe when I found it on Food 52. It was named the runner-up polenta recipe in last year ‘s Your Best Polenta Recipe Contest! on the Food 52 website. The recipe remains very popular today with over 17,000 views. In the comments section, there are many posts from readers who had actually made the dish and raved about it. With all that build-up and anticipation, I was very disappointed to be underwhelmed by this dish. The sum of all the delicious individual parts should have been much greater than what it actually was. Maybe I did something wrong? I’m not sure. How could so many people give this high praise when I thought the dish as a whole was just so-so. The polenta, on its own, was good, especially with my addition of tangy goat cheese, lemon thyme, and much more salt. I usually prefer soft polenta, but this firm version, which was browned slightly, was a surprisingly nice change. The bacon, aside from being yummy by itself, added a nice bit of much-needed crunch. However, when combined with the caramelized onions and honey, the polenta and bacon competed strangely with the sweetness of the onions and honey. The onions were very sweet, as caramelized onions should be, but the addition of the honey made it overly sweet. Contrary to many comments on the Food 52 site, I found that the honey made the polenta unappealing. I really want to make a good firm polenta dish so I’ll probably give this recipe one more shot, making it more savory. Next time, I’ll try using chicken or vegetable stock instead of milk and omitting the honey. Any other suggestions?
For the Polenta
2 cups water
2 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon kosher salt (1 used at least 1 tablespoon)
1 cup polenta
4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons lemon thyme, chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Bring the water, milk, and salt to a boil. Slowly whisk in the polenta. Add the goat cheese and lemon thyme. Turn heat to low, and continue whisking for 5 minutes, or until polenta is smooth and creamy. Spread the polenta in a 9×9 baking dish, and set aside to cool. Pour 1 tablespoon olive oil into another skillet. Cut the polenta into desired shape, and cook over medium heat until slightly browned and crusty on one side, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook the other sides another two minutes.
For the Topping
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 yellow onion, halved and sliced in 1/4″ slices
3 slices cooked bacon, medium-diced
2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
honey, to drizzle
While the polenta is setting up, add the butter and olive oil to a skillet. Add the sliced onions and a sprinkle of kosher salt, and cook, over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until soft and caramelized, about 20-25 minutes.
To assemble, place polenta cake on a plate, top each cake with caramelized onions, bacon, and crumbled goat cheese, and drizzle with honey.
Adapted from ArielleClementine’s recipe on Food 52
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