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helenas

Your Favorite Way to Cook Polenta: Tips and Tricks

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what is your favorite way to prepare?

especially in one-pan weeknight dinner. I'm thinking about two possible combinations:

one is with italian sausages, another one is gorgonzola.

thank you

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both of those sound good to me.

i made a simple two pan meal the other night.

I rubbed a fresh salmon fillet with salt, coriander and pepper, drizzled with EVOO, wrapped in foil and stuck it in a VERY hot oven for about 15 minutes.

cooked coarse corn grits with kosher salt and sun-dried tomato strips, sauteed bell pepper, onion, garlic and kale til tender in a skillet and then assembled:

polenta, topped with kale, topped with fish, topped with crumbled goat cheese. it was very good.

the next night i pan fried the left-over polenta and topped with tomato sauce & cheese.

i also make polenta crusts, in an iron skillet, fill with whatever, roasted vegs, cheeses, beans, etc., and bake til heated through.

the key i find is seasonging the grits as they cook with some flavored OO. gives them a rich texture, too.

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Polenta with mushrooms and Parmesan cheese

Use assorted fresh mushrooms such as cremini, portobello, chanterelle, and domestic brown or white, in any combination. You could add 1 ounce of dried porcini which you soak in about 1/3 cup hot water.

The herbs in this dish could be fresh sage or thyme.

Don't forget the garlic, salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.

I can PM the recipe to you if you so desire.

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what is your favorite way to prepare?

especially in one-pan weeknight dinner.  emphasis added

If you're making polenta AND something, it's going to be 2 pans most likely: one for cooking the polenta, and the other for whatever else. Unless it's something like polenta with cheese, in which case it's all-in-one.

But otherwise it looks so much better if it's a heap of polenta with the other stuff poured over it.

I almost always have too much sauce left over from stews and braises (oxtails; osso buco; etc.) -- often enough to sauce another meal. I put the excess away in the freezer. Then just heat it up and serve over a mound of polenta: waste not, want not.

Also remember that if you have leftover (or make extra) polenta, you can chill it until firm, then cut it into slices to fry or grill. Mmmmmmmmm :smile:

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what is your favorite way to prepare?

especially in one-pan weeknight dinner.  emphasis added

If you're making polenta AND something, it's going to be 2 pans most likely: one for cooking the polenta, and the other for whatever else. Unless it's something like polenta with cheese, in which case it's all-in-one.

Okay, I lied: you will need a skillet for the mushrooms and a heavy saucepan for the polenta; a bowl, maybe a measuring cup...

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Okay, I lied: ...
No, not really, and I wasn't trying to catch you. It just sounded from what Helena originally said, that SHE thought ...

No matter. :biggrin: You are absolutely right about how great mushrooms over polenta. And with the tiniest drizzle of truffle oil, heaven!!!

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I'm with Suzanne. I prefer polenta with stuff served atop or alongside. Like short ribs. Osso bucco. Wild mushrooms. Lamb shanks. Pulled pork.

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our fav way to eat polenta is grilled with EVOO brushed over the top to help it brown slightly. I cut it into diamonds and toss in with mixed green leaves, cherry tomatos, asparagus or beans and other seasonal fresh raw or slightly blanced veges and hunks of smoked cold chicken. Yumm!!!

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At this time of the year,polenta with some sort of game ragu is the ticket for me;Wild boar,venison,rabbit.Braised bitter greens and squash would be good as well...fyi,check out Paula Wolferts' oven baked method for cooking polenta in 'Mediterranean Grains and Greens'-it's easy and delicious.

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wingding, you're reading my mind - this is what in my oven right now; polenta torta stuffed with kale per Wolfert. Modifications - i used white polenta and topped the torta with crumbled luganega during its last 15 minutes in the oven.

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Russ Parsons has a great recipe for pork ribs (country style) and Italian sausages with soft polenta in his book. Very hearty and highly recommended. Like Suzanne was saying, a lot of sauce left over for a second meal.

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Had quite a time trying to make some 'crispy' polenta rounds. I prepared the polenta as I usually would for 'soft' polenta, as this is what the recipe I was working from instructed (roughly half milk/half water, about four cups liquid to 1 cup polenta), then let the polenta cook a bit longer in order to dry it out a little, then poured it into a pan and chilled it overnight. Next day, I cut it into discs and tried sauteeing it. The remaining water in the polenta coming in contact with hot oil was *not* good, to say the least, so I tried putting the polenta under the broiler, which browned it a bit, but also melted the discs into a puddle. So I then tried pan frying it, but the discs didn't stay together. Getting a bit panicked (this was a for a dinner party), I tried grilling the discs. This had about the same outcome as the broiler.

I'm assuming the solution is to dry the polenta out further (but won't this make the discs unappetizingly dry?) and/or to dredge them in flour or breadcrumbs or something. Anyone have some advice on making 'hard' polenta?

The grilled polenta 'puddles' with mushrooms were pretty good anyway, though.

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I posted this last year (Lynn Rosetto Casper's recipe):

Use 1 cup cornmeal, 4 cups boiling water, and ½ teaspoon salt. Get a double boiler situation set up. Put the salt and water in the top part of the boiler. Gradually whisk in the cornmeal. Cook, covered, for about 1½ hours, stirring a few times. (She recommends a rubber spatula; I use a whisk.)

I recommend using all water instead of water + milk. I'd also reduce the amount of water rather than do the extra cooking if you want a thicker product. After cooling, blot up the exuded water with a paper towel.

Here's a thread I started about browning polenta. The slow cooking method worked really well for me.

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I had wonderful polenta made by my sister-in-law. I tried making it using a very reputable recipe and it didn't turn out the way I thought it would. It was very creamy but seemed more like porridge

I know cooking takes practice so can someone give me some hints on the following issues:

1. I used white stone-ground cornmeal from a mill in North Carolina. Should I have used a supermarket yellow cornmeal?

2. The recipe says salt to taste. How much salt is really needed?

3. I halved the recipe and used 4 cups of water and 1 cup of cornmeal. I tried to make the cornmeal pour as slowly as possible and whisk at the same time to prevent lumps and I think that worked well. I also used 1/3 cup of Parmesan cheese and 2 tablespoons of butter to give it flavor.

Any hints would be appreciated.

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1) I use 1 cup of milk and 2 cups of water per 1 cup of cornmeal to attain a pretty firm polenta.

2) When using middle or coarse milled cornmeal, cooking time (with constant stirring) is between 30 min and 1 our. There's considerbale evaporation. Maybe you need to add some water during the cooking process.

3) "Salt to taste": you have to try. Depending on you cooking time, the polenta tends to get saltier. If you intend to fry it, (another loss of water) you need to stay at the very low limit. I use to replace one third of the salt with broth or chicken stock. If you intend to add parmigiano, you have to adjust the amount of salt to the lower side again.

Sorry, experience is everything here. If in doubt, stay "undersalted" and add a bit of hot, extremely salty water at the end of cooking/stirring time to adjust for you taste, if needed.

4) If you ever are cooking large amounts (6-8 pounds of cornmeal), you shouldn't wait until the water is boiling. It's too dangerous for the buil up of lumps. Add the cornmeal when the liquidity is lukewarm or hot. Then stir relentlessly and with considerable effort until the liquidity starts to boil and the mix thickens.

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I use a mixture of cream and water as well. I don't think this is very authentic polenta but it yeild s pretty delicious results. Also, you want to use a nice thick bottomed pot to prevent burning.

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Making grits in a crock pot is being discussed here.

I have always thought of polenta as grits with a class attitude. :biggrin: I wonder if a crock pot would work for polenta as well.

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Giada's recipe for Polenta with Gorgonzola is to die for. Her method is to add cream, butter and gorgonzola at the end of cooking, stirring just till everything is melted, then serve. YUM. You must give this a try!

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My husband is the cook in our family, and he makes great polenta. I admit I haven't paid attention to every step, but the polenta got a lot better (and more consistant) when he stopped cooking it in a pot on the fire and started using a double boiler, with the polenta cooking in a stainless bowl on top of the pot. He got the process from Lynne Rossetto Kasper, at http://www.splendidtable.org (not sure it's still posted as he printed this out in '02, but it is from her cookbook, "The Italian Country Table: Home Cooking from Italy's Farmhouse Kitchens"). She gives the ratio as 3 parts liquid to 1 part cornmeal, and says for creamier polenta increase the liquid by about a third. My husband varries the liquids a lot -- milk, water, chicken stock, etc. He just made some using part apple cider the other night, and with his pork ragu it was to die for! :wub: HTH!

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FWIW, I read somewhere some time ago to add corn meal to luke warm water and stir to avoid lumps. It works every time.

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coffeeroaster... the idea of adding apple cider is just inspired! Wowser!

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i just made some this weekend and tried something new. i use a 3-1 ratio of water to corn (in this case, plain yellow cornmeal ... couldn't find any coarse or polenta other than instant). I first made a slurry out of equal amounts of cornmeal and water, then when the remaining 2 parts of water came to a boil, poured the slurry in. worked like a charm. when the polenta was done (be sure to cook it until it comes cleanly away from teh sides of the pan ... there is a major flavor change as the corn toasts and mellows), i spread a big pat of butter on top, then pressed aluminum foil on the surface. i put it on very low heat over a flame tamer and it held for 2 hours until dinner. just before serving i beat in more butter and a bunch of parmigiano. worked like a charm.

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Thanks for the hints. I'll try some of them. The recipe I followed was by Marion Cunningham who got advice from an Italian cook that after the lumps are whisked out, to not stir the polenta for 40 minutes allowing it to bubble. This forms a crust on the bottom of the pan that is not used. She wrote that she knew it was heresy to say this but that is worked for her and the Italian cook in Italy.

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