CRAVING a traditional quick and easy Italian treat? Once again the Italians have come to the party and given us an ingredient that doesn’t take up time and provides us with a hearty meal with friends.
Polenta, this golden Italian ground maze (corn), is traditionally cooked with a stock or water to give a warm creamy dish served with slow cooked stews or sautéed wild mushrooms.
The dish, from the north of Italy, is now found all over the world and used in combination with seafood, grilled, bbq’d or deep-fried. Polenta is a perfect option for vegetarians without being blanch or boring.
Simple preparation is needed with polenta, however taking your eye off the pot and forgetting to continually stir the mixture with result in hours of scrubbing in the
Serving polenta hot, or wet polenta as we call it in the kitchen, is a perfect alternative to mash potato and an excellent, lighter compliment to slow cooked lamb shanks.
The bonus with polenta is that any leftover polenta can be spread on a tray and placed in the fridge to set. Once set take a Sharpe knife and slice wedges to be grilled on the BBQ or served with lashings of pesto and Parmesan cheese.
Polenta can however have a bland side to itself. So always look towards mixing richly flavored ingredients into the mixture. My top 5 ingredients would be, Parmesan cheese, mushrooms, olives, pesto and lastly a good knob of quality butter. Once you become familiar with polenta you can use it in baking cornmeal breads and polenta biscuits for a special treat.
When buying polenta choose a fine grain as it takes less time to cook and has a smooth texture when cooked. Instant polenta is equally as good taking 5-8 mins to prepare.