Polenta, most commonly known as corn meal, is a staple food in the Italian Alps, where food is simple and sometimes sparse. It is usually served as a side dish, usually considered a northern Italian dish.
Polenta itself is a dish that can be complemented with almost anything by adding ingredients to add other flavours. Polenta is easy to eat in various ways, sometimes cooked, baked and sometimes as a side dish to other dishes. It is perfect if you first cook polenta in the oven, then grill, fry and then bake it, or it can be topped with any number of things and eaten simply or in creamy porridge.
If you only find coarse cornmeal and prefer smooth and creamy polenta, you should blitz the cornflour in a food processor until it is a micro fine powder*. I also believe that you will find that yellow maize flour, cut specifically for polenta, is much coarser in consistency. Almost all my polenta are a bit tender and thickened after cooking, although this does make it longer lasting.
Cooked polenta can be poured into a cooling tin and served directly from the pot. When the polenta cools down, it thickens and hardens, but I like it soft, so I loosen it up a bit, just by adding water or milk. To make it cool and firm to slice later, put it in a bowl and refrigerate for a few hours.
To make polenta you can use any type of corn flour, depending on preference and availability. If you are looking for corn flour for polenta, make sure you buy a medium or coarse grinding, but you can also use a finer ground.
Polenta must be made from plenty of liquid in the corn flour to fully hydrate and expand it when cooked. Cooked polenta thickens quickly, so if you don’t plan to eat it right away, you’ll need to plan ahead. Another thing to keep in mind is that polenta solidifies and gets harder over time, so you can’t serve leftovers in the same creamy way. There are so many ways to use leftover polenta, but I’m a big fan of polenta for its creamy flavour and creamy texture.
My favourite method of making polenta is a combination of two different methods: cooking and baking. Some recipes require combining the polenta with water in the casserole dish and cooking it directly over a flame, in some cases covered and in others uncovered. The skin on polenta can be a problem, and I found it difficult to stir it when cooking polenta. I found some oven-made polenas online and even turned them into sausages, which gives me the opportunity to fry some of my polenteras (which is one of our favourite things).
Creamy polenta is great to serve with butter and cheese and is the perfect accompaniment to finish. You can make polenta with cornmeal and mix it with a little butter or parmesan for extra zing.