Polenta Cakes with Avocado
With Cinco de Mayo coming up, I wanted to prepare Mexican inspired polenta cakes with avocados topped with a fried egg and mango salsa.
Polenta is a traditional Italian dish made from cornmeal. It can me served hot or cold, as an oatmeal or in a cake form. The amazing flavors of corn in the polenta is a wonderful compliment to the avocados and mango salsa.
With the freezing cold winters in Canada my family disappears to Mexico for a week or two every year as a way to absorb some vitamin D, have a family outing and enjoy the fresh, amazing flavors in Mexico. One of our favorite places is Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo, located about 45 km (152 mi) northwest of Acapulco.
Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo has the most perfect weather in March. The temperature is a perfect 30 degrees Celsius almost everyday and the rain season doesn’t start until May. With weather like this, you can enjoy every day of your get away.
The people here are the most friendliest and kindest I have ever met and although I struggle with the Spanish language everyone seems so forgiving as I destroy one of the most beautiful languages in the world. Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo feels like paradise as you stroll down the streets and pick mangoes and avocados from the trees around you.
I thought, in honor of Cinco de Mayo this year, I would put together a recipe inspired by my love of Mexico and the flavors that abound with corn polenta cakes flavored with mangoes of Ixtapa and avocados.
You can purchase Polenta in most stores wrapped in a tube and you just cut off a bit and fry it up but I am going to make it from scratch since I have a humongous bag of cornmeal in the cupboard and it is probably one of the easiest things to make besides fried eggs.
Begin with 4 cups of water with a dash of salt and 1 cup of cornmeal. Let this come to a boil and stir until you notice the cornmeal start to float and thicken at this point you can reduce the heat the the lowest it can go and cover it. Make sure to come back and stir it up with a whisk or wooden spoon every couple of minutes to make sure nothing is sticking to the walls or burning on the bottom. Once it starts to thicken you can eat it like an oatmeal type of dish but I recommend cooking it for 30 minutes because at this amount of time the corn grits become very soft and the rich flavor of corn comes out. After 30 minutes stir in Parmesan cheese and 2 tablespoons of butter. Once the cheese melts and mixes in thoroughly scoop your polenta into a silicon muffin pan. This makes the disc’s perfectly round. The polenta does not stick to the silicon pan and it is really easy to just pop them out once they have cooled and set.
I have tried a regular non stick pan and my polenta stuck terribly and I had a real difficult time getting them out. Fortunately there are always second chances with polenta cakes. Scape out the polenta from those unforgiving pans and put it back into the saucepan. add a bit more water and stir, breaking up the set polenta. Stir and heat it until it goes back to the consistency of oatmeal again and this time try silicon or line the baking pan with plastic wrap to help get them out. While the polenta is slowly cooking in the saucepan on the stove you can prepare the toppings. Cut up the avocados and sprinkle with lime juice to keep it from discoloring and set aside. Mix up the mango salsa. You can find the recipe here or you can use any salsa that you want. To prepare the fried egg, heat a non-stick skillet on high for about one minute to get the pan hot, then add a tablespoon of butter. Crack the egg and add it to the butter. Lower the heat to medium. Spoon in a couple tablespoons of water around the egg. The water will sputter and splash a bit. Cover the pan and let the egg steam until the white is set, about 30 seconds. Then slide it off to a plate. Once the polenta has cooled and set nicely in the muffin pan, easily pop them out and add them to the skillet with a bit of olive oil.
Cook the disc shaped polenta cakes until the turn a rich yellow and are slightly browned.
Place one cake on the plate and add the chopped or sliced avocado then top with another cake. Carefully place the “over easy” fried egg on top and pour the Mango salsa on. Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve immediately.
- 4 cups water
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup Cornmeal
- 1 cup Parmesan cheese
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 Avocado Chopped or sliced
- 1 cup Mango salsa
- 1 egg
- 1/4 chopped cilantro (for Garnish)
- Heat water in large saucepan until boil.
- Add salt and slowly stir in cornmeal. Turn down the heat and continue stirring with a whisk until cornmeal starts to absorb the water and thickens and stays suspended when you stop stirring.
- Cover and cook the polenta 30 - 40 minutes. Stirring vigorously every 10 or so minutes making sure to scrape the sides and bottom.
- Stir in cheese and butter.
- Scoop polenta out of sauce pan to a silicon muffin pan. I made 12 cakes at 1/2" thickness.
- Bang or tap muffin pan to level the thick polenta. Use a spoon dipped in milk or water to gently smooth the surface of the cakes.
- Let sit until set.
- Heat skillet on high and add 1 tbsp olive oil. Pop cakes out of muffin pan and place in skillet. Cook until cakes turn a rich yellow and starts to brown slightly on both sides.
- Chop or slice the avocado and sprinkle with lime juice. Set Aside.
- Prepare Mango Salsa.
- In hot skillet by heating the skillet on high and adding butter. Once the butter has melted turn heat to medium and crack egg and add to the butter. Pour 1/4 cup water around the egg and cover for 30 seconds letting the egg steam until the white has set.
- Place one fried polenta cake on plate, cover with avocado slices. Place another cake on the avocado and top with the fried egg. Pour Mango salsa over the entire cake.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Serve immediately!