Thursday, September 20, 2007

Polenta, It should be a Southern Food

I recently came across a food I have loved all my life and just did not know it even existed. As it is similar in beginnings to grits I was sure it must be some obscure Southern ethnic dish. I then discovered it is very popular in the North and is used instead of pasta in many areas. My research of its history then led me to Italy where it is considered a national dish. At least it must have been invented in Southern Italy, but no it originated in Northern Italy. Farther study and I find out it is actually popular all over Europe and even the Eastern Block countries. Italy is in the Southern part of Europe so it was kind of invented by a Southerner.
I am talking about Polenta, a simple dish of boiled cornmeal. It is easy but time consuming to make or you can buy it ready to use in most major grocery stores. It can be fried crispy to use as a bread or sautéed to be used in place of pasta or rice. It can be layered with tomato sauce and cheese to make a kind of Polenta Lasagna. It is wonderful with fresh farmer’s cheese or cream cheese topped with sautéed Italian style vegetables. It will be on my families table as a regular in the near future. Here is a simple recipe for Polenta and our favorite way to date to enjoy it.

Stir 2 cups of cornmeal into 2 cups of water in mixing bowl
Bring 4 cups of water and 1 tsp of salt to a boil
Slowly pour the cornbread mixture into the boiling water and bring to a low simmer. Stir off and on for about 20 minutes until thick. Stir in 3 tablespoons of butter.
Pour thick cornmeal mixture into a greased bowl and place into the refrigerator. Invert on a cutting board and slice to be used as needed.

Our favorite way so far is to brown on both sides in olive oil. Place on plate and put on your favorite cheese. Cover with your favorite tomato or Italian sauce.

I fried some crispy brown the other morning and covered with cheese, put on a fried egg and Canadian bacon, it was a great breakfast.

It is never too late to try new foods. You never know what you will find.
Enjoy, Wild Ed

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