Bite size is always a fun way to start off a party. You get a little taste of something decadent without filling up for the main affair. These cheesy little polenta triangles paired with the rich ragú make for an excellent start to a luscious evening of Italian.
Polenta Triangles with Beef Ragú
Servings: PLENTY to go around (great for a large party)
*a note: this preparation calls for 2 days (the first days commitment is very minimal though and saves time in the long run)
olive oil for cooking
1 box (about 2 cups) instant polenta
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups milk
1 cup grated Romano cheese
1/2 cup minced cilantro
2 tablespoons ground thyme
salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 medium onion, minced
1 pound (1 package) ground beef
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
4 garlic cloves, pressed
1 (28 ounce) can fire roasted tomatoes
small rosemary sprigs
basil (for decoration)
Grease a large baking sheet with olive oil. In a medium sauce pan over high heat, bring chicken stock and 1 tablespoon olive oil to a boil and add polenta. Stir in milk, Romano, cilantro, and thyme. Season with salt and pepper and return to a boil, whisking constantly until mixture is thick and smooth. Transfer mixture to the greased baking sheet, spreading evenly and thinly over the surface. Let cool. Once cool, cover with Saran wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Take out your baking sheet of formed polenta and divide into 3X3-inch squares, cut the squares in half diagonally to form your triangles.
In a large saute pan over high heat, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and once heated, add your minced onions. Cook until translucent, about 5-6 minutes then add your ground beef, seasoning with oregano, paprika, cumin, chili powder, and garlic. Cook until browned then drain oil. Next, mix in fire roasted tomatoes and simmer until reduced by half (about 15-20 minutes). Season to taste with salt and pepper.
As your ragú is reducing, take another large saute pan over high heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Begin frying your polenta triangles in batches until golden brown and crunchy (about 2-3 minutes per side). Set on a paper towel lined plate once fried. You will need to keep adding olive oil as you go but keep the heat high and don’t add too much at a time or the polenta will absorb it.
To assemble: arrange your polenta triangles in rows on a plate. Top each with a spoonful of ragú and a tiny sprig of rosemary (or you could use a basil chiffonade). Add several sprigs of basil for a plate decoration and serve. Enjoy!
A Little Tip:
If you are passing this appetizer, you can keep your fried polenta triangles warming in the oven (set to WARM) and keep your ragú on low heat on the stove.