Mar 9, 2013

Project 295 & 294: Corn of Plenty - Polenta

Cornmeal makes a zillion things. It's used all over Africa, Europe, South Asia, the Caribbean, Meso and South America and, of course, all throughout North America. Cornmeal makes cornbread in a thousand variations. Cornmeal makes muffins, grits, Johnny cakes, hushpuppies, and, best of all - polenta! And polenta makes lots of tasty stuff.

Don't fear polenta. You do not have to stand and stir it for hours. You don't have to buy the far inferior already made polenta in a tube either. Just cook some polenta in a pot on the stove and you'll be very happy.

The basic ratio for cooking polenta is 1 part polenta to 4 parts liquid. Use water or the broth of your choice or a combination. Bring the liquid to a strong simmer and slowly stream your polenta into the pot, stirring as your pour so it doesn't clump. Cook at a low-ish simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. You don't really need to stand and stare at the pot stirring non-stop. While the polenta is cooking, you can prepare a salad or grate the parmigiano reggiano cheese or saute some onion and peppers.

In about 25 minutes you should have a nice smooth porridge. Drop in a tablespoon or two of butter and a big handful of cheese, some salt and freshly ground black pepper and remove from the heat. You have polenta. Scoop it into a bowl and top with anything you like or nothing at all. Here we have it with Italian chicken sausage (does this mean the chickens were Italian?), roasted peppers, onions and garlic and, of course, cheese!
An alternative is to cook your polenta as directed above and then pour it into a baking dish or even onto a baking sheet and let it firm up at room temperature or the refrigerator. Once the polenta is firm, you can top it and bake it like pizza or cut it into shapes and pan fry or bake those shapes and use them in all sorts of ways.

Here I've filled a baking dish with about an inch and a half of polenta and let it firm up. Then I topped half with just cheese and the other half with the sausage, peppers and onions. I then baked it until the cheese melted.
Now you have a "pizza" or a casserole or whatever you'd like to call it. Call it what you like, the bottom line is that polenta is versatile, easy to make and very tasty. 

1 comment:

Delphyne said...

I love polenta and you're right, it isn't that difficult to make and the results are far superior to that stuff in a tube.


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