[Cooking] Polenta

Oh my God... I've fallen in love. Last week I had some chicken in the fridge and after flipping through The Joy of Cooking, I decided to make chicken cacciatore. The recipe says to serve with polenta so I went to the grocery store and got some instant polenta. The combination of the saucy cacciatore mixed with soft polenta was amazing.

I can't believe I have lived this long and never had polenta before. I saw a cook on Food Network prepare it once but he made an enormous amount and poured it onto a table for people to share- which came across as rather decadent and weird to me.

Anyway, I made it again the next night with a pork stew over it. I poured the hot leftover polenta into small, oval, non-stick gratin dishes. For breakfast the next day, I turned the solid polenta out onto a cutting board to cut and then fry. I had it with mushrooms and two over-easy eggs on top. Runny yolks + mushrooms + polenta = bliss.

Even though he politely ate his way through all of this, it appears that Dollar doesn't like polenta. :(

Too bad because I bought a different kind to try. Almost all "instant" polenta is pre-cooked (and then dehydrated) because cooking the real thing involves an hour of standing and stirring. But the taste is meant to be so much better than the instant stuff- richer and cornier. This new stuff I bought isn't pre-cooked but cooks just as fast because South American corn is different from European corn blah blah blah. I just can't wait to see how it comes out.

Warning: hot bubbling polenta is the same consistency and temperature as liquid magma. Don't try to taste it, don't let any splatter onto exposed skin.

Here are a couple polenta recipes I want to try:

Creamy Polenta
Polenta Pie with Cheese and Tomato Sauce (just because I want to try those pre-cooked polenta tubes that look like huge yellow sausages.)

I can't think of any more at the moment. The only way I've prepared polenta so far is to cook it in chicken stock with a little freshly grated parm cheese added at the end. I'd like to branch out and try adding other cheeses, or milk/cream, or butter, or herb butter (I still have a bunch of herb butters in the freezer that I made at the end of the summer).

Have you ever had polenta? Do you like it? What is your favorite way to have it?

NPR just had an article on cornmeal.


Shelby said...

polenta is awesome, and even the non-instant kind is really easy to just takes a lot of hanging around the stove and stirring. I love fried polenta, and it's also really good grilled and smeared with tapenade or sundried tomato pesto. Sometimes I make a big batch of meaty bolognese sauce to serve over polenta rather than spaghetti, too. Polenta is infinitely versatile and thus awesome.

Hannah said...

I've never made my own because the polenta log is really good (and so easy). I grill it, then put it in a casserole dish and smear pesto on top, then cover with sauteed crumbled sausage, peppers, onions and grated mozz and parm and broil until the cheese melts. So good!

KC said...

Polenta is totally under-rated! I have never seen the pre-cooked kind but the other kind is easy to make, it really doesn't take more than 10 min or so. Try making it with rosemary, milk or cream, and parmesan! I like it with grilled/seared chicken and beans almondine, Yum.