Food Friday: Basic Polenta

October 3, 2008

Between the cooler weather and the sagging economy (D’s firm had more lay offs yesterday) I have been seriously craving comfort food.  Polenta is a very inexpensive and very filling meal. It can be served as a base for your favorite sauce, topped with grilled veggies, chicken or shrimp or on it’s own for something simple, quick and easy.  My favorite is with a nice poached egg on top and wilted greens.   Here is a great recipe for basic polenta; you can serve it soft right out of the pot or pour it into a baking pan to set and slice it.  I will give you instructions for both.

1 heaping tablespoon coarse salt

1 dried bay leaf

2 cups coarse-ground polenta meal*

Freshly ground pepper

Freshly shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano

1. Put 6 cups of cold water, the salt, and bay leaf into a Dutch oven or heavy stockpot, and bring to a boil. Bring remaining 4 cups of cold water to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat.

2. Add polenta to large pot in handfuls, separating your fingers to let the grains slip through and whisking constantly until combined. Reduce heat until only a couple of large bubbles appear at a time.

3. Whisk 2 ladlefuls of simmering water into polenta, and cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until water has been absorbed, about 5 minuted.  Continue to add 2 ladlefuls of water every 5 minutes, stirring often and waiting for it to be absorbed before adding more, until polenta is creamy and just pulls away from the sides of the pot, about 45 minuted. (It may be necessary to adjust the heat.)

4. If not serving immediately, reduce heat to lowest setting, cover pot and keep warm until ready to serve (up to 1 hour). Remove bay leaf. Season with pepper.

For soft polenta: Stir in a few tablespoons of butter if desired, serve immediately. Top with fresh shaved cheese

For set polenta: Pour into a slightly damp baking dish (apx 13 X 9) and let stand until no longer steaming, about 10 minutes. Refrigerate, uncovered, until cold and set, about 1 1/2 hours. Cover with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate until ready to serve. Turn out polenta and cut unto strips, squares or triangles, serve.  

* can be found in the Italian food section of most supermarkets

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4 Responses to “Food Friday: Basic Polenta”

  1. Matt Says:

    What does that taste like?

  2. Sara Says:

    Like yummy, gooey, cheesy, goodness.

  3. Erin Says:

    If anything has Freshly shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano on top – sign me up.

  4. Carly Says:

    ooooh…we are on the same food wavelenghth: i just made this polenta “casserole” almost. it was baked with swiss chard, ricotta, and mozzarella and it was damn comforting!

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