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Polenta

chefa1a's picture
The literal translation for the Italian word Polenta is "mush". Boiled cornmeal for an edible starch is a found in countless cuisines all over the world. Formerly a peasant food, this is finding upscale ways to hit supermarket shelves and restaurant menus nowadays. What do you know about polenta? If your Italian you probably know about it or have sampled it. It has its roots in many cultures; right here in North America a lot of early American settlers and immigrants when traveling couldn’t bring a lot of livestock or farm animals with them for the diets. So some dried food staples like cornmeal, sugar and flour were used to focus meals around. For breakfast you would add sugar, honey or maple syrup to this cornmeal mush or porridge. For lunch they might have had some savory cornmeal pancakes or “Johnny-cakes” and then the long cooking evening stew was served over or stretched out with this hearty dish. ....... My experience with Polenta in Classical Italian Cooking Methods utilizes this versatile derivative of corn, for uses such as polenta gratinéed with cheese like goat cheese or gorgonzola for a simple but delicious antipasto dish, or used as a foil or starch for many protein dishes, instead of pasta or risotto you could serve sautéed scallops or a grilled piece of meat or fish right over polenta. You can even use the coarse grain itself to add a crispy exterior texture or “crust” to pan fried fish and chicken dishes. So you see polenta can be a very versatile and economical addition to your pantry and one I want to give you some further insight on this gastronomic underdog.
Ingredients
  Cold water/6 cups water and 2 cups milk or cream 8 Cup (128 tbs)
  Salt 1 Tablespoon
  Coarsely ground cornmeal 2 Cup (32 tbs) (mixed with 1 cup finely ground cornmeal)
  Finely ground cornmeal 1 Cup (16 tbs) (mixed with 1 cup finely ground cornmeal)
  Unsalted butter 2 Tablespoon
  Grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese 1⁄2 Cup (8 tbs)
Directions

Bring the water to a boil in a large, heavy pot over medium heat and add the salt. Place the cornmeal in a bowl and place it near the pot. As soon as the water begins to simmer, start pouring the cornmeal by the handful in a slow, thin stream, and stir constantly with a long wooden spoon or a wire whisk to prevent lumps. When all the cornmeal has been incorporated, reduce the heat a bit and stir the polenta with a wooden spoon, reaching all the way to the bottom and the sides of the pot. Cook the polenta at a steady simmer stirring constantly. As it cooks, the polenta will thicken considerably and will bubble and spit back at you. Reduce the heat a little to avoid being splattered by the bubbles. Cook and stir the polenta for about 20 minutes. Polenta is done when it comes away effortlessly from the side of the pot. If using butter and parmigiano, add it to the cooked polenta just before turning the heat off, and stir until everything is well incorporated and polenta has a smooth, creamy, thick consistency.

Recipe Summary

Difficulty Level: 
Very Easy
Cuisine: 
Italian
Course: 
Side Dish
Taste: 
Savory
Feel: 
Rich
Method: 
Boiled
Restriction: 
Vegetarian
Interest: 
Healthy
Preparation Time: 
5 Minutes
Cook Time: 
25 Minutes
Ready In: 
30 Minutes
Servings: 
4
Story
Its all the rage now for chefs to re-explore these peasant and comfort food dishes, so you are probably seeing things like polenta becoming “Chic” now and popping up on more menus and at supermarkets and gourmet grocers. Traditionaly Polenta is made in a "paiolo", a huge italian copper pot without a tin lining, and with a convex bottom. Stirring is done with a proper wooden paddle called "tarello". My basic formula for coarse polenta is 4 parts liquid to 1 part cornmeal. Of the four parts liquid if you want a creamy flavorful polenta substitute 1 part cream or milk and flavor the broth with herbs and a few cubes or teaspoons of chicken bouillion powder or paste.
Subtitle: 
Polenta

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