Monday, March 30, 2009

Making Polenta, The Other Italian Cooking Staple.

I am honored to have a guest blogger this week, food extraordinaire and lover of all things Italian, Paula, the creator of Paula grew up as an Air Force brat and had the privilege of living in many countries including Italy. While living in Italy, Paula developed a love for the Italian culture and especially food. Her passion includes cooking and sharing her recipes on all things Italian. Here Paula shares the history and recipe behind the well known Italian dish, Polenta.


I spent many years in the region of Friuli -Venezia Giulia in Northern Italy and have quite a love for the region, its food, people and culture. When I think of a traditional Friuli dish, naturally I could name several dishes, but the one that stands out in mind is Polenta. If you're not familiar with this chameleon type food, Polenta is made with ground cornmeal. It can be ground coarsely or finely depending on the region and the texture desired. Polenta can be served creamy (softer) or in a cake like (denser) consistency. In the denser consistency, it can also be fried, grilled, made into balls, patties or sticks - making it an extremely versatile food.

Polenta was originally considered a dish for peasants, but is no longer seen in this light. What makes it so versatile is its ability to work together with other ingredients. It can be served with nearly anything on top. This includes cheeses, sauces, vegetables, meats, etc. The toppings, as always, depend on the region. Some examples are: Polenta con salsiccie (sausage), Polenta con funghi (mushrooms), Polenta Pasticiatta (a lasagne type Polenta dish), and Polenta e gorgonzola.

Polenta is an incredibly easy dish to make, not to mention hearty and very economical. In these tough economic times it's a perfect dish. I hope you'll give it a try. Do as the Italians do and use local ingredients that are abundant in your region. Visit your local farmers market and use your seasonal ingredients to spice up this dish.

To make Polenta simply:
  • Bring water to a rolling boil.
  • Add 2 tsp of kosher or sea salt to your boiling water.
  • Using a whisk, slowly add in 2 cups of cornmeal flour.
  • Reduce heat to low & simmer slowly for 50-60 minutes.
  • Stir with a wooden spoon!

I topped my Polenta with a mushroom, butter sauce and garnished with freshly grated Pecorino cheese.

Buon Appetito!



Maria said...

I love polenta. YUM!

Umbrialovers said...

We love Polenta, as you said it's a dish from north Italy, but we use to it here in Umbria (central italy) as well! Well, we're on the hills as well :-)
Our favourite is the softer one with sugo (a tomato sauce) and sausages. We usually eat it in fantastics dishes made of wood, rectangular shaped... mmmm... with this grey and rain outside... we're Hungry!!!!

Paula - bell'alimento said...

Thanks again for letting me stop by! I adore Polenta! It's an amazingly versatile dish!