There is something about finger food like these polenta sticks. It seems both sophisticated and mischievous.
I guess that’s because there is something heedless and hedonistic about eating with your fingers. It’s the standing part that makes it feel so sophisticated.
Still, on the flip side– finger food can make you feel downright childlike too (and I mean that in a good way). Boring old grown-ups sit politely while eating, napkins in laps. But us cocktail kids get to slink around the room– glass in one hand, tidbit in the other. It’s that wonderful moment when your past and present selves playfully intertwine in a way that seldom happens at the dinner table.
Of course the best thing about finger food is that it is associated with parties. I guess that’s why finger food doesn’t feel like calories, does it? Finger food usually mingles on a communal platter, enticing its intended targets (you and I) to follow suit.
Despite all the frivolity finger foods encourage, they can be riveting and even a bit dangerous. They are the perfect excuse to take a nibble of some food you may have never thought was quite right for you, or sneak a taste of some forgotten treat you long since swore off. Perhaps a torchon de fois gras? Sure there are political issues attached, but one little thumbprint-sized morsel won’t hurt now will it?
Besides finger foods are easy to eat all in one bite. So nobody has to see what it is you are eating, or quite how many either. Don’t you try and tell me you don’t find that fact at least a little bit thrilling.
So to honor one of my favorite categories of food I am starting a new feature here today at Sippity Sup. It will join the ranks of Default Pasta, Market Matters and Sup! Loves Cookbooks. It will make occasional appearances, according to my whims (and how many cocktail parties I throw!).
I am calling this feature Finger Food. So keep an eye out, I’ll pull one out for you every once in a while. Whenever I am feeling sophisticated, mischievous, heedless, hedonistic or just plain frivolous.
You see what I am saying? Finger food is difficult to categorize, but oh so easy to love.
- 1 lb broccoli florets
- 2 c milk
- 2 c water
- 1 1⁄2 c white or yellow corn meal, or coarse grain polenta
- 1⁄2 c pecorino romano, grated
- 2 T olive oil, plus more as needed
- kosher salt as needed
- marinara sauce for dipping
Bring the milk and water to a boil in a large pot, stir in 2 teaspoons salt. Add the broccoli florets and cook until tender, about 4 minutes. With a mesh strainer remove the florets (it is okay if small pieces remain behind). Let them cool slightly then roughly chop them.
Return the milk and water mixture to a low boil and slowly stream in the polenta while stirring constantly. Once incorporated turn down the heat to achieve a very low bubble. Continue stirring until the polenta thickens up, this can take a few minutes or much longer depending on your polenta. Stir in the broccoli florets. Cook stirring often while also scraping the bottom and sides of the pot. Continue cooking and stirring and scraping until the broccoli breaks down and nearly into the polenta. You may need a bit more water to keep the consistency thick, but fluid. Stir in the cheese and olive oil. Season with additional salt if necessary.
Remove from heat and spread out 1/2-inch thick onto an oiled or silpat linedbaking sheet using an off-set spatula. Chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour, or overnight. Cut into wide-cut “fry” shapes, about 5″ to 6″ long and 1/2″ square. Rub each stick with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with some salt.
Bake in a 450 degree oven, middle rack, for 20 minutes or until golden and crispy. Flip the fries once after ten minutes.
Serve with a marinara sauce for dipping.
SERIOUS FUN FOOD