As far as I know, the nearest equivalent would be deep fried risotto balls with mozarella cheese. But risotta is a popular dish in my home and there is never enough leftover to make these. Then came the idea of substituting polenta which has a similar sticky texture for the wrapping job.
My family was pleased with this because this meant a chance to try the farmhouse cheddar which we bought from London's Borough Market. The cheese was packed among our clothes, to prevent squashing, but the tradeoff was a huge washing mission to rid our clothes of the smell.
Judging from the speed the dumplings were polished off the plate, the trouble was well worth it !
Makes 10 medium polenta dumplings.
1 cup polenta, raw
3 cups water
Pinch of salt
10 cubes of cheddar
10 cubes of ham
Raw polenta for coating
Oil for frying
Bring water to a boil.
In a steady stream, pour the polenta into the boiling water.
Stir regularly. The polenta will spit and bubble, so take care not to burn yourself. I stirred with a pair of very long chopstick to avoid this.
When polenta looks set , about 10-20 minutes, turn off heat. Set pot aside to cool.
When polenta is cool enough to handle, scoop a generous tablespoon of polenta and make a ball.
Wet your hands for easy handling.
Push ham and cheese cubes into the polenta ball and roll to seal contents.
Roll balls on a bed of raw polenta to coat.
Fry balls until golden brown and crispy.
Serve hot with tomato salsa.