Polenta is inexpensive and extravagant and partners to red wine

| February 26, 2014 | 0 Comments


Polenta, a native dish of Friuli, Italy, is a wonderful ingredient to utilize for hors d’oeuvres and appetizers.  It’s simply cornmeal that’s made into porridge or mash.  .   But when boiled, polenta may be left to set, then baked, grilled or fried.  Polenta is a fabulous base ingredient that can be partnered with a variety of ingredients and paired with wine.

I’ve been editing my cookbooks to make the Kindle savvy and came across this recipe this morning.  It’s so easy and delicious and a harmonizing partner for any austere red wine.

You’ll need to make the polenta rounds from cornmeal. The pre-prepared polenta tubes available at supermarkets won’t work here; the rounds made from those tubes are too large to serve as bite- sized morsels. The ready-made polenta also can’t be punched with a cookie cutter.  Besides, slow-cooked polenta is much tastier, in my opinion.

Polenta Rounds with Stilton Pate

Serves 4-6 (makes 16 rounds)


8 oz            250 g          cream cheese

4 oz            125 g          crumbled Stilton

2                                   cloves minced garlic

1 tsp          5 mL         finely chopped fresh rosemary


1 cup        250 mL          milk

1/2 cup       125 mL          fine cornmeal sea salt to taste

freshly ground black pepper to taste corn oil    (for frying)

rosemary sprigs (for garnish)

To make the pate, combine the cream cheese and Stilton in a bowl. Mix them together until they’re well blended. Mix in the garlic and fresh rosemary. Cover the mixture and refrigerate it until it’s needed.

To make the polenta, bring the milk almost to the boil. Add the cornmeal in a very slow stream, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to low. Continue stirring in the same direction while the cornmeal thickens, about 15 to 20 minutes. The polenta is done when it peels easily off the sides of the pot. Season it with salt and pepper. Remove it from the heat. Pour the polenta onto a sheet of aluminum foil. With wet hands, smooth it into a thin, even sheet. Let the polenta cool. Cut out 16 rounds, using a 2-inch (5 cm) cookie cutter or the rim of a wine glass. (Fancy cookie cutters work nicely, too.)

Preheat the oven to 350F (180C). Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Fry the polenta for about 2 minutes on each side, until lightly golden.

Meanwhile, spray a rimmed baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Set the fried rounds on the baking sheet.

Top each round with 1 tsp (5 mL) Stilton pate. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake the rounds until the cheese is melted, 3 to 5 minutes. Watch closely so the pate just melts, but doesn’t slide off the polenta. Garnish the rounds with the rosemary sprigs. Serve them warm.

Suggested Wines: Barolo, Barbaresco, Amarone, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc

Building Blocks 

The predominant building block is fattiness and saltiness from the Stilton.  An austere red has enough tannin to nicely offset the fat and salt in Stilton.


Choose an austere red with berry flavors to complement the piquant flavor of Stilton.

For other cheese recipes to pair with wine, check out Shari Darling’s

The Wine and Cheese Lovers’ Cookbook, now on Kindle and available through Amazon.com.  Click the book cover.







About the Author ()

Shari Darling is an award-winning and best-selling author and columnist, educator and speaker specializing in wine, food and the partnership between them.

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