I have only once been to a State Fair, but oh, what a State Fair it was. Minnesota takes that sort of thing very seriously. And as tourists, my friend Lizzie and I took fair food quite seriously. We started the day out with cookies, moved on to fried cheese curds, added in a little corn on the cob and giant turkey leg and I believe finished the whole thing up with dessert on a stick. The Minnesota State Fair is very into food on a stick. Evidently, in many parts of the good old US of A it is State Fair season. I wouldn't know about that. There's probably a state fair (note the intentional lower case letters) in my state, but I know it's not serious. Nothing like a real State Fair. But even here, in State Fair season, talk turns to frying. Because nothing says fair food like some fried whatever-the-hell-it-is, fried Kool-Aid, fried Twinkies, fried beer, fried pizza, fried butter and fried hoagies (people stop the madness!) I am not ashamed to admit, I was whipped into a frenzy for frying. I had an uncontrollable urge to fry. And what food in my fridge was the lucky winner? Who exactly was going for a bath in that deep golden oily goodness? Leftover polenta, baby. Crispy on the outside, creamy goodness on the inside.
FRIED POLENTA BALLS
leftover polenta (don't worry I'll tell you how to make polenta)
corn or vegetable oil
2 C milk
1 C chicken stock
1/2 C water
1 C ground yellow corn meal - I use Quaker
2 T butter
1/2 C cheddar cheese (Shut up, the southerner in me can't help equating polenta with grits, and I can't help a little cheese in them. You're lucky it's not Velveeta.)
salt and pepper to taste
In a medium pot, combine your liquids. Bring them to a boil, then remove from heat and begin to sprinkle in the cornmeal. Really sprinkle, don't just dump it, because if you dump it you'll have a congealed mass of ook. Instead, sprinkle, sprinkle, while whisking. Return it to low heat and watch it and stir it until it gets nice and thick. But not too thick. At the last minute, stir in the butter and cheese. I like to serve it under shrimp, or with a fried egg and greens, there's a lot you can do with it. But when you're done, stick the leftovers in the fridge for polenta balls!
DIRECTIONS FOR POLENTA BALLS!
In a medium pot (or whatever you use for frying), pour some oil. You need it to be deeper than the balls, but you know, don't fill the pot or anything. Heat up your oil to about 375 F. I'm totally guessing at that. My thermometer and I had a falling out. Or a jumping out, it wouldn't stay in the pan, so I just guessed at when to add the balls. While the oil is heating, take your leftover polenta. Working quickly, roll it into little balls and coat with flour. I tried to make mine meatball sized, like a small meatball, but as you can see, I was pretty irregular about it. Drop the floured balls into the hot oil and cook for a few minutes on each side. Really watch it, because you want them nice and golden. Remove (gently, they'll fall apart otherwise) and place on a plate covered with paper towels. I strongly recommend using a slotted spoon for this, because with a regular spoon you might end up dripping oil on your burner which results in fire. Ask me how I know. Keep warm in the oven until you're ready to serve. I put mine in a salad, but really, you can have your balls any way you like.