Variations

1. Bring the water and salt to a boil in a saucepot.

2. Very slowly sprinkle the cornmeal into the boiling water, stirring constantly. This must be done slowly and carefully to avoid lumps (see Figure 19.3).

3. Cook over low heat, stirring almost constantly. The polenta will become thicker as it cooks and will eventually start to pull away from the sides of the pot. This will take about 20-30 minutes.

4. Lightly moisten a large flat surface, such as a wooden board or a platter.

5. Pour the polenta onto this board or platter. Serve immediately, hot, or let cool and use in any of a number of ways, including the variations below.

Freshly made hot polenta is good with many kinds of stews and other braised dishes that provide plenty of flavorful juices for the polenta to soak up. It is also served with grilled dishes.

Polenta con Sugo di Pomodoro

Serve hot polenta with tomato sauce or Meat Sauce (p. 639).

Polenta con Salsicce

Serve hot polenta with pork sausages cooked with tomatoes or tomato sauce.

Polento al Burro e Formaggio

Stir 6 oz (175 g) fresh butter and 2-3 oz (60-90 g) grated parmesan cheese into hot polenta as soon as it is cooked.

Polenta Fritta or Grigliata

Let polenta cool and cut it into slices 1/2 inch (1 cm) thick. Pan-fry in oil until a thin crust forms. Alternatively, heat slices on a grill or broiler until hot and lightly grill-marked.

Polenta Grassa

This can be prepared in two ways.

1. Pour a layer of hot polenta into a buttered baking dish. Cover with sliced fontina cheese and dot with butter. Cover with another layer of polenta, then another layer of cheese and butter. Bake until very hot.

2. Prepare as in the first method, but instead of the hot, freshly made polenta, use cold polenta cut into thin slices.

Polenta Pasticciata

Polenta Pasticciata

Prepare Meat Sauce (p. 639), using pork sausage in addition to the beef. Also, add sauteed sliced mushrooms to the sauce. Cut cold polenta into thin slices. Fill a baking pan with alternating layers of polenta slices, meat sauce, and parmesan cheese. Bake until hot.

Figure 19.3 Making polenta.

(a) Slowly sprinkle the polenta into the simmering water, stirring constantly to avoid lumps.

(b) Simmer while stirring until the polenta reaches the desired texture. Serve at once or proceed to the next step.

(a) Slowly sprinkle the polenta into the simmering water, stirring constantly to avoid lumps.

(b) Simmer while stirring until the polenta reaches the desired texture. Serve at once or proceed to the next step.

(c) Pour the polenta into a sheet pan and cool.

(d) Cut into desired shapes.

(c) Pour the polenta into a sheet pan and cool.

(d) Cut into desired shapes.

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