Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Polenta


I am doing this post specifically to go with the Short Rib Ragù I posted earlier today. But, truth is polenta tastes good with just about anything & is a Bozo favorite side dish here at our house.
Even though Dh & I are both of Italian American decent & are both from New England...we call this Grits. Normally, when I make "Grits", I just follow the instructions on the bag of cornmeal...something simple, like simmering in salted water for 15-20 minutes.
But, this time, I decided I wanted to try Marcella Hazan's method for making "Polenta". Her traditional recipe is crazy...and, although it may be crazy delicious, it involves stirring the polenta for 40 minutes straight. Um...not today.
So, I tried her "No-Stir" method...which, does involves some stirring, but no where near 40 minutes of it!
I couldn't really see the point of cooking grits, or polenta this long. But, I now see that it does change things. The individual grains sort of disappear & it becomes this smooth, even texture.
However you decide to cook your grits, they would taste great with some ragù, bolognese, or my favorite way...with a sunny side up egg on top.

I am not doing my typical step-by-step instructions for this one, as it's a short post. But, I will mention that you will need some special tools when making polenta. They are...a wire whisk {for whisking the dried cornmeal into the water}, a long handled wooden spoon {for stirring the polenta while it's simmering} & a gloved potholder {to protect your hands while stirring}.
Secondly, don't be alarmed by the whole tablespoon of salt in this recipe. It needs it! The end result with come out perfectly seasoned.

Polenta

From Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, by Marcella Hazan
Makes about 4 cups
This is Marcella's "No-Stir" version of polenta. In this case, it means not having to stand at the stove for 40 minutes straight, doing nothing but stirring...which is what you must do to make her traditional version. There's still some stirring involved in this method, but much less!
When making polenta I like to use Bob's Red Mill coarse-ground yellow cornmeal.


7 cups water
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 2/3 cups stone ground yellow cornmeal

special equipment: a long handled wooden spoon, a wire whisk & a gloved potholder

Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan & add the salt. Add the cornmeal in a very slow stream {letting a fistful of it run through nearly closed fingers}, whisking the whole time you are adding it {if needed, protect your hand by using the potholder for this}. Make sure the water continues to boil as you are adding the cornmeal.
After all the cornmeal has been added, stir with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. Adjust the heat so that the polenta is gently simmering, cover the pot & cook for 10 minutes. Uncover & stir for 1 minute. Cover again & cook for another 10 minutes.
Continue this process until the polenta has cooked for 40 minutes. Uncover & stir for a final 5 minutes. When the polenta is done it will begin to pull away from the edges of the pot.
For creamy polenta, serve right away. It can be served as is, or flavored with butter, and/or some Parmesan cheese & some fresh herbs. To make firm polenta, pour the mixture out onto a greased baking sheet & let it firm up in the refrigerator. Slice the polenta & reheat it by grilling, baking, or frying it.
Click here for the printable recipe.

7 comments:

Alicia said...

Gorgeous. I love polenta or grits. I think I may need to make some shrimp to top some grits in the near future.....

Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen said...

This method certainly seems more manageable than the old-fashioned way of making polenta. I've also seen no-stir polenta recipes that call for cooking the polenta in the oven instead.

Joanne said...

I have to admit, I've never done the low and slow thing when it comes to polenta because who has time to realistically stir for that long! I love this no-stir version though...def giving it a shot!

kate said...

Alicia! Good one! Forgot about shrimp & grits :)

Laurie @simplyscratch said...

I have plans to make this soon, to go under beef short ribs! Lovely pics as always! <3

Amy (Minimally Invasive) said...

Love the site -- your photos are just gorgeous! I was a no-stir devotee for a long time until I started making polenta in my Zojirushi rice cooker (using the porridge setting). It comes out a little looser than stovetop polenta, but involves no stirring at all, which puts it over the top for me.

kate said...

Amy~I've been wanting a Zojirushi rice cooker for a long time now. I love the little Rizo ones...so cute! Making polenta in one is a great idea.
I love your site as well!! Your pics are gorgeous!
Your short ribs were a big hit at my house!

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