While at a restaurant recently, I ordered a dish of salmon, vegetables and polenta. Although I had heard of polenta (we’ve even had it on our healthcare menus), I had never eaten it, so I was curious. The polenta I was served was light and fluffy in texture (similar to Yorkshire pudding) and deliciously sweet.
It inspired me to try making polenta myself. So far, I’ve made it just once using a basic polenta recipe. I didn’t get quite the same texture or taste, but it was good nonetheless, and I’ll keep trying.
For anyone else not familiar with polenta, the following is a little history about polenta and how it is made.
Polenta is a very old dish of Italian origin, associated with Northern and Central Italy. It was a staple food in various regions of Italy. It is made from flour which can be from various grain sources such as rye, buckwheat or spelt. Today, it is most commonly made from corn meal.
Basic polenta is simply a dish of boiled cornmeal. It may be served as a hot porridge, or it may be allowed to cool and solidify into a loaf that can be baked, fried or grilled.
Polenta is made by slow cooking a semi-liquid mixture of water and the grain flour, which is usually course. Classic yellow polenta is made from corn, which is usually stone-ground. In Italy, the coarseness of the grain will differ according to the tradition of the region.
There are several variations on how to make polenta, but traditionally, the flour is poured into boiling salted water in a copper pot, and stirred with a wooden hazel stick, for at least an hour. It’s ready when the stick remains standing on its own if left in the pot. Polenta is then poured on a wooden plank and served, depending on its texture, with a spoon, or cut into slices.