Recipe Friday: Rustic Polenta Pizza

Written by Marilyn Hawkes Category: Recipes Issue: May 2017
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Polenta Pizza. Photo by Joanie Simon.For those of you who love polenta (and there are haters), Phoenix-based home cook and recipe developer Joanie Simon has devised a creative recipe for rustic polenta pizza.

To make it a little easier to pull the ingredients together, Simon has teamed up with Bite Box, a subscription delivery service that curates boxes of Arizona-made food products. Simon’s debut box of local goods – called The Kitchen Kit – features Hayden Flour Mills Polenta, Go Lb. Salt Sel Gris de Guerande sea salt and AZ Bitters Lab Mas Mole Bitters, plus a lovely recipe card for her polenta pizza. The Kit is available for $35 at biteboxaz.squarespace.com.

“The recipe is unique and utilizes some trendy ingredients, but in terms of flavors and the overall experience, it’s very comforting and homey,” Simon says. You can watch a video of Simon making the dish at joaniesimon.com.

Rustic polenta pizza with bitters-blistered shishito peppers

Ingredients
1 cup Hayden Flour Mills polenta
3 cups water
1/2 tsp. salt, plus more to taste
2 tbsp. butter
1 cup shishito peppers, stems removed
3 tsp. grapeseed oil, divided three ways
18 drops AZ Bitters Lab Mas Mole Bitters, divided three ways
1 medium yellow onion, sliced into rings
3 to 4 oz. goat cheese
1/4 cup sweet chili sauce
1 tbsp. tomato paste

Preparation
The night before preparing this dish, soak the polenta in enough water so it’s completely covered. This will soften the polenta and cut cooking time the next day. Drain before using and follow the rest of the recipe as follows.

Heat 3 cups of water in a large saucier pan or pot to a gentle boil, then sprinkle in the polenta and 1/2 tsp. salt, stirring constantly until it’s all added. Reduce heat to medium or medium-low once the polenta starts to bubble. Continue stirring polenta every 10 minutes or so for a half hour until the polenta is thick and soft, then stir in 2 tbsp. butter.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat a cast iron skillet over high heat until searing hot, then add in 1 tsp. grapeseed oil and shishito peppers, frequently tossing while adding in 8 drops of the Mas Mole bitters. Cook until the peppers are blistered and slightly softened, then remove from skillet and place in a bowl for later.

Using the same skillet, add in another teaspoon of oil along with the onion slices and another 5 drops of bitters. Continue cooking over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to caramelize the onions. This process takes 5 to 10 minutes. Once caramelized, add the onions to the bowl with the blistered shishitos.

Next, remove the pan from the heat and add in the remaining teaspoon of oil, coating the entire inside of the pan. Then add the polenta to the pan, smoothing out so that it’s an even thickness in the pan. Scatter the shishitos and onions over the top of the polenta like it’s a pizza and place in the oven to bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. The polenta should be firm and hold its shape, but not dry and hard. It should still be soft in the middle.

Combine the sweet chili sauce, tomato paste and 5 drops of bitters in a small container. Once the pizza is cooked, top with goat cheese and a liberal drizzle of the sauce you just made.

Note: The longer the pizza sits after cooking, the firmer the polenta will be. If you like polenta soft, serve immediately. If you like it firmer, let it cool for 15 or 20 minutes.