Thursday, March 1, 2007

Polenta: Living the Principle

When I told Jami that I was going to write about polenta she objected saying, "But that's not a recipe." I quipped back, responding that it was a principle, and that I would teach people correct principles, and let them govern themselves. The principle of polenta is actually a ratio, 1:4. That's 1 part polenta to 4 parts liquid. I can't say which liquid. The recipe that follows feeds us twice--fresh polenta the first day, polenta fried in olive oil on the second. You can double it, halve it, reduce it by a quarter, whatever you like, just as long as you follow the 1:4 ratio.

  • 1 cup polenta (or regular old corn meal if you're desperate)
  • 1 quart liquid (this can be chicken or vegetable stock, water, or water and milk)
  • a pinch of salt, unless you have cheese
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup or a mere handful of grated Parmigiano Reggiano, Pecorino Romano, or pecorino stagionato (when aged Italian cheeses are unavailable I add 1 1/2 cups of milk to the liquid instead)
  • a medium sized saucepan or pot
  • measuring cups
  • a whisk or fork
  • a large spoon
  • a cheese grater
1. Boil your chosen liquid[s], adding salt if you need it.
2. Pour the dry polenta into the boiling milk/water/stock in a steady stream, stirring constantly with the fork or whisk.
3. Trade out the whisk for the spoon and reduce the heat. The polenta is done once it begins to pull from the sides, or when the spoon can stand up in it. This should take seven minutes or less, unless you somehow managed to get traditional polenta, in which case, see you tomorrow.
4. Turn off the heat and stir in the cheese.

Options: You can eat your polenta hot off the stove if you like. Leftovers can be sliced up and fried in olive oil until golden, or grilled. Polenta goes well with meats and mushrooms, anything with savory brown juices for it to soak up. I especially like it with lentils. By the way, for those of you not in the know, the title of this post is a Mormon joke about polygamy.

Siete maledetti polentoni.

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