Polenta's name is derived from pulmentum, which comes from the same root word as pollen. Polenta was a staple in the early Roman diet. Originally, polenta was a porridge made from grains such as millet or spelt or from garbanzo bean flour. Polenta was not made from corn until much later, hundreds of years later when the grain was introduced to
Now corn polenta is a very common Northern Italian dish. Most people have a polenta pot or paiolo. Made of unlined copper, with a flat bottom and gently sloping sides, the pot is designed to conduct heat evenly while making it easy to stir smoothly. The pot has no place for the cornmeal to stick and lump up. Lumpy polenta is not acceptable.
Usually polenta is made by adding a thin stream of cornmeal to salted, boiling water. Then the polenta is stirred constantly for 40 to 45 minutes. It is an arduous task, but worth it. However, if you are like me, you don’t want to stir constantly for almost an hour. I have tweaked this recipe and have created a yummy polenta for lazy people.
Hardware: A pot, measuring cups and spoons, a whisk (or a stick blender), a crock pot. optional: a loaf pan, a spatula, plastic wrap, a frying pan
Time: Prep 5 minutes, cooking 4-6 hours.
- 7 cups boiling water
- 2 cups stone-ground, course, yellow cornmeal
- 1 tablespoon of butter
- 2 tablespoons light olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (the best you can afford)
- optional: butter, olive oil for bottom of pan
|Fried polenta with sundried tomato pesto|
- Put the water on to boil.
- Rub the inside of the crock pot with butter.
- Turn the crock pot on high. You want it to be hot when you add the water.
- Put the boiling water into the crock pot. Stir in the cornmeal, olive oil, salt and pepper.
- Whisk until it is completely blended. Make sure there are no lumps.
- Turn the crock pot down to low and cook for 4-6 hours.
- Every 2 hours or so, scrape down the sides of the crock pot and stir vigorously.
- The polenta will be done when the liquid is absorbed and it is the consistency of creamy mashed potatoes.
- Stir the polenta making sure there are no lumps; you can use the immersion blender if needed. Stir in the Parmesan.
- You can serve the polenta immediately. Top it with gravy, butter, or pesto.
- Or you can spread it evenly in a buttered loaf pan. Cover the pan in plastic wrap making sure that the plastic is against the polenta. Place the pan in the refrigerator and allow it to cool and set until firm. Cut the firm polenta into ¼ inch slices and sauté it in olive oil until it is crispy and golden brown on both sides.