Polenta. I have a dim memory of someone asking me in comment to post about polenta, how to make it. Now polenta is a really simple dish to make, polenta flour, water and salt and a lot of energy is all you need. And some experience of when it is ready because it is a matter of feeling, the thickness of the polenta, how it stops getting attached at the sides of the pan and has that right creamy and heavy texture. It takes at least 40 minutes of constant stirring, even more sometimes, I actually think it gets better if you go on bit longer and it has the grace of not getting over-cooked!
There are several types of polenta flours, bramata which is coarser and makes a more rustic polenta, fioretto which makes smoother and softer polenta are the two most usual types. Then you have white polenta, not to speak about stone ground polenta flour and polenta flour with the crusca left (or what it now can be called when it comes to mais.
Polenta is poor man’s food, simple, cheap and rustic but oh so versatile – you can serve it so many ways! Yesterday we had polenta with ragú or meat sauce but you can make vegetable sauces or mushroom sauces, serve it with fish or with cheese melting on top of it. Or you just eat it with a knob of really good butter! It always comforts and fill you up, leaving you feel satisfied. But I think it can be called an aquired taste, at least this is how it’s been with me; the first time I had it I wasn’t impressed at all, I couldn’t understand the happy smile on my then boy friend’s face when he was eating it, but now I really like it and I always make too much because then I can prepare it in the way that is maybe the absolute best way to eat it: polenta fritta, thin slices of polenta fried in hot olive oil – crispy on the outside and soft on the inside!
500 g/ 1,1 lb polenta flour
2 l(2000 ml)/8,5 cups water
1 tblsp coarse salt
– Heat the water in a big pot or casserole with a thick bottom. Add the salt.
– When the water is tepid you add the polenta flour, stir constantly so that no clumps are formed. Now you often see that you should add the polenta flour to boiling water but that is really not a good advice because then you can be pretty sure that you end up with a very clumpy polenta.
– Now you go on to stir and stir, all the time and with some energy. After a while you will notice that it is becoming creamier and then you know that you are on the right road and the end is somewhere in the near future.
– The polenta is ready when it begins to let go of the walls of the pot/casserole and it is really thick and keeps together well! It takes usually at least 40 minutes. Then you ‘pour’ it onto a large dish or a cutting board and let it rest a little. There’s a test you can make if you want: you cut a slice with a thin metal wire and if it remains a firm slice, it’s ready. Unless you want a very soft polenta, then you add more water but cook it as long as the firmer one.