I almost titled this post “polenta and probability”, but had a change of heart at the last moment. As you know, I’m a homeschooling mom, and I recently taught my son the joys of probability. Now, now ... no groaning. Math is your friend, your compadre, your kemosabe. I’m pushing it, aren’t I?I don't think I'd have to push these appetizers onto anybody. They are soooo goooood! I love appetizers. There’s something wonderful about sampling finger food, no matter if it’s a tried and true thing like shrimp cocktail or something more intricate like phyllo tartlets. Appetizers can take the place of a meal, too; and because you're nibbling here and there, you can enjoy some guilty pleasure by sampling bits of this and that without overloading your plate or your metabolism.
Today’s recipe at It’s All Gouda is a scrumptious, savory polenta appetizer that can be prepared in so many varieties -- it’s hard to pin down all the combinations that you can create. I started with 3 different cheeses and 3 different meats, which gave me 9 different meat/cheese pair combinations to make. Go ahead ... make a probability tree ... you’ll come up with 9 pairs as well.Anyway, with Easter around the corner, I thought I’d have a go at preparing some gluten free finger foods. I’ve always hosted an Easter brunch at my house; however, this year will be the first time it will purposefully include some gluten free offerings. I’d recently received a glorious package of goat cheese from Ile de France, and thought I’d revise an appetizer that I’d made for years that includes goat cheese and onions. These are really, really easy to make, but they do take time. It would be fun to make these delightful rounds with your kids, or with your guests for that matter, as everyone can design their own.Helloooo, beautiful! Basically, these gorgeous, circular beauties bites consist of a firm polenta base, topped with the most amazing, crispy fried onions, your choice of cheese, your choice of meat, and then drizzled with gorgeous chive oil. In the past, I’d made these using either thick pita bread or pizza dough, and they turn out wonderful that way, too. They are soft, chewy, crispy, creamy, salty, and mmm, mmm, good!
You start by making a basic, seasoned polenta, and spread it out on a sheet pan to cool and firm up.When cool, cut into small rounds using a glass or cookie cutter. Then either pop under the broiler or pan sauté to produce a golden crust. Set aside.
Meanwhile, slice an onion into very thin, half rounds. Sprinkle with some sea salt. Sauté in olive oil and butter until just starting to caramelize. Then turn the heat up, and fry until crispy. NOTE: These are addicting. Make extra. Trust me. You’ll be nibbling on these as you cook. It’s not possible to ignore them.
Next, prepare your protein. I used prosciutto, which didn’t need any prep work other than to open the package. I also microwaved some thin bacon until crisp, and very quickly seasoned and fried some super thin strips of steak on top of the stove. You could, of course, use left over grilled steak, sliced ultra thin.Now, set out your cheeses. I used my lovely goat cheese from Ile de France, some creamy brie, and a lovely, crumbled gorgonzola. Feta would be wonderful here, too, but I didn’t use Feta this time. If I had, that would increase my probability to 12 pairings. Ahem.You could also just serve a vegetarian version of just cheese and onions. That changes our probability options as well!
Time to assemble your rounds. Heat the oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with foil, and place all your golden polenta rounds on the foil. Top each round with one type of cheese (don’t combine the cheeses). Then put some of the crispy onions on top of the cheese. Pop in the oven for about 10 minutes. Remove, and top each round with your choice of meat (don’t combine them). Drizzle with a chive oil made from pureeing chives in olive oil. It’s amazing.Garnish with chopped tomatoes and serve warm.
These lovely savory polenta rounds are gluten free, all the way. Take care, though, as not all corn meal products are gluten free, and not all gluten free eaters can eat corn. We have no problem with corn. My youngest appetizer eater, the gluten free girl, gobbled these up like there was no tomorrow.They will find their way onto my Easter buffet. What’s your favorite appetizer?