Polenta Bouchees w/ Fig Balsamic Jam
I think I could just live on appetizers.
Tapas, antipasti, stuzzachini, cheese, bread, and little noshes would make me happy every night for dinner instead of a large meal.
With a nice bottle of red wine to go with, of course.
I recently attended the Taste of Nations Share our Strength dinner in Princeton, NJ, courtesy of Christo from Chez What, and I tasted these little polenta bites w/ fig jam.
I couldn't get them out of my mind. They were from Emily's Cafe in Pennington, and were out of this world.
Since I am certain that the chef would not part with his recipe for the fig marmalade, I made Thomas Keller's version from his Ad Hoc at Home cookbook.
I made my polenta (1 cup of polenta to 5 cups liquid & some fresh herbs). When it reached the right consistency, I poured it into a greased 9" x 13" glass dish and cooled in the fridge until firm, about 20 minutes.
I cut the polenta with a biscuit cutter into rounds and grilled them on an oiled grill.
I have never had luck with frying polenta. It may be the brand I use, but it never seems to get a nice crispy exterior, so I decided to grill the rounds and they came out great.
Top with the fig balsamic jam and sprinkle with some fresh chives and life is good.
Fig Balsamic Jam: (adapted from Ad Hoc)
1 lb. dried mission figs (or other dried figs), roughly chopped
1 cup cane sugar
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp black peppercorns tied in a sachet (optional)
Place the figs, sugar, balsamic and water in a medium-sized sauce pan over medium heat. Once it comes to a bubbling simmer, reduce the heat to low, add the sachet and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the figs have absorbed most of the cooking liquid.
Remove from heat and carefully use a blender or food processor to puree the jam, pulsing only once or twice. I liked it chunky.
Stir in the lemon juice and let cool completely to room temperature. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 month.
Makes about 2 cups jam.
(I am freezing the rest of the polenta bouchees (bites) to make other appetizers: polenta with caramelized onions and gorgonzola!).