This recipe evolved from playing around in the kitchen with ingredients that are new to me. When I was making up a batch of coarsely ground flour from dried yellow peas for “chick pea tortillas” , I noticed that the flour looked a lot like polenta meal. Of course I had to try making polenta with it. It worked! Then I tried making polenta with flour made with ground dry garbanzo beans. I am not sure which I prefer.
Not to leave well enough alone I found that just about any liquid can be used instead of water to vary the recipe from day to day: chicken broth, infusion from boiled apricot or nectarine pits, milk, rice milk, coconut milk, etc. Adding a bit of milk resulted in a more pudding like texture that I really like. Like the polenta my grandfather grew up on, I some times eat it as hot mush topped with anything from stewed fruit to spaghetti sauce. Depending on what I was going to top it with, I flavored the mush with anything from cinnamon and vanilla to garlic and herbs. After pouring the mush onto a flat surface to cool and set, I cut it up into slices* and fried it in browned garlic butter or olive oil. From a cooking show (I wish I could remember which one) I learned that addition of Parmesan cheese to the mush upped the Umami of “polenta” considerably.
Then we dug up our first crop of potatoes grown in the garden. My roommate was preparing her “white stuff” breakfast of champions when I happened to be making myself some yellow split pea “polenta”. I took a look at her hash browns and then at my creamy “polenta” with a crispy, buttery, fried exterior. Memory of seeing a recipe for Baked Doce de Grao – Gluten Free Coconut Blondie Recipe flashed through my mind and the light bulb went off. What about putting a crispy hash brown exterior on creamy chick pea polenta? The following recipe was born.
1/2 cup coarsely ground chick pea flour (either dry yellow split peas or dry garbanzo beans)
1 cup water
1/3 cup (minimum) milk
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
2 medium potatoes
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil or butter
1. Prepare Potatoes
Scrub and grate two medium potatoes. Soak in a container of water with a pinch of salt. Let stand in the refrigerator until filling is ready to use. This step can be done the night before. Sometimes I will put grated or cut potatoes to soaking in salted water on the weekend and use them for various recipes throughout the week. When the filling is ready, drain the water, pat dry with a clean cloth and toss with a pinch of salt and tablespoon of oil or melted butter.
2. Prepare Polenta Filling
Boil water in a separate pot with milk, cheese and 1 table spoon butter or oil. Gradually add chick pea flour and beat vigorously with a wire whisk until mixture becomes thick and pulls slightly from edge of the pot (5 to 10 minutes). The consistency should be about the same as pudding.
3. Grill the Potato Cake
Heat small heavy skillet until sprinkled water will dance on it’s surface. Add tablespoon of oil or butter and lower heat to medium. Spread half of grated potatoes over surface of skillet. Pour polenta filling over the potatoes and spread evenly to fill skillet. Sprinkle remaining potatoes over top of the polenta. Cover with a glass lid and cook 5 minutes. Remove lid and cook until bottom potatoes turn a golden brown (about 5 minutes). Use a plate to flip the cake like a frittata. Cover with a glass lid and cook until bottom crust is golden brown (about 10 minutes). Remove cake from the pan. Turn up heat to high and cook each side for about a minute to create a crispy crust.
4. Jazz it Up
Top the potato cake with anything that can go in or on pasta, pizza, sandwiches, etc. The porridge can be enhanced with spices, seasonal herbs, juices, broths, etc. Anything you can add to fried potatoes, will make a nice addition to the crust.
Additional Information & Related Recipes For Chick Peas
After stumbling onto the idea of making polenta with chick peas, I did a quick internet search to see what would come up. Turns out, people have been making chick pea polenta and chick pea porridge for a very long time. Bloggers from India, in particular, post a wide variety of tried and true recipes with chick peas. I included links to some of the sites I visited below. I want to explore them more myself, so I thought you might want to visit them too.
Baked Doce de Grao – Gluten Free Coconut Blondie Recipe. Apr 29, 2016. Nandini. Goan Imports. Goanwiki.com. https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/56270662/posts/1990
Climate change and US agriculture: Opportunities for conservation to reduce and mitigate emissions and to support adaptation to rapid change. A. Manale, S. Hyberg, N. Key, S. Mooney, T.L. Napier, and M. Ribaudo. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation. January/February 2016. Volume 71, Number 1.
Easy panelle. Mark Bittman. New York Times Cooking. http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1014755-panelle
Fried Chickpea Polenta (Panelle). February 2008.
From Afterthought to Staple: Expanding use of pulses as food ingredient in U.S. diets. Adam Hinterthuer. 2016. Crops, Soils, Agronomy News, Vol. 61 no. 1. American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America. http://dx.doi.org/10.2134/csa2016-61-1-1
Indian Custard | Besan Payasam | An eggless recipe. June 2, 2008. Ganga108. A Life (Time) of Cooking | vegetarian food from a quiet kitchen
Pulses: the delicious, protein-packed, sustainable foods you know as dry peas, beans, lentils, and chickpeas. American Pulse Association, USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council, Pulse Canada. https://pulsepledge.com/
Porridge Chickpeas Recipe Simple and Tasty. 12 June 2015. Silvio Cicchi Executive Pizza Chef. Site Accessed on July 10, 2016.
Recipes. Explore our many recipes made with pulses, the delicious healthy superfoods that include chickpeas, lentils, beans and dry peas. American Pulse Association, USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council, Pulse Canada.
‘*’ When I was a girl, the “old people” in my family talked endlessly about pouring the corn mush directly onto a freshly scrubbed kitchen board to cool and dry. After the mush set into a thick cake, they cut it with a tightly held string. These stories of making polenta were often told in conjunction with stories of cooking with salted fish, pressing procuitto with salt under bricks in the backyard, and making a garlicky paste for dipping vegetable sticks from ground anchovies. Not so traditional, I pour my polenta mush into a glass pan that I cover with plastic wrap and put into the refrigerator. After it sets, I cut it with a knife. I get my prosciutto from the deli and I am yet to venture trying vegetable dip made by grounding dried salted anchovies with garlic. I am told the stuff will make you “hate yourself” for days, but the treat can be worth it if you don’t have business meetings afterwards. The tellers of these stories have “moved on” to the next life. Any experience with polenta of any kind brings back the laughter and love of their story telling.