Sunday, November 21, 2010

Polenta

We had a cookout on Sunday, because that was the only day everyone was able to come. This is some of the corn we had. I'm sitting here at my laptop wondering how to introduce this topic. I love my brother, and I love polenta. My brother loves me, and he loves sauerkraut. I don't think he would understand my affinity for soft, silky, creamy polenta. But maybe, just maybe after seeing this post, he might be willing to give it a try.

So, what is polenta? In the South it's called grits--coarsely ground corn is cooked in water to the consistency of mush and served as a breakfast cereal, or cooled, cut into slabs, and fried. Polenta is the Italian version of grits. Polenta uses a finer grind of corn; it can be simply simmered in water and, if desired, cooled, cut into slabs, and sauted.

But polenta can be elevated to something much more heavenly--cooked slowly in a combination of broth and milk and then, in the final moments before serving, enhanced with a sprinkle of fresh herbs and a handful of grated Italian cheese. Polenta can be topped with a marinara sauce, a meaty spaghetti sauce, or as we had it this evening, with a sauce of sauted wild mushrooms, diced tomatoes, and sherry. Here is how to cook a memorable polenta--soft, creamy, comforting, and maybe even better than sauerkraut (LOL!).

Italian Polenta
1 1/2 cups non-fat milk
1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup polenta
2 tsp. minced fresh rosemary (optional)
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Pour milk and broth into a large saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Slowly add the polenta to the liquid, stirring constantly (think about how you cook cream of wheat or oatmeal). Turn heat to low and continue to simmer, stirring constantly for about 20 minutes, or until mixture is very thick and creamy. Remove from heat, add rosemary and cheese, stir, and serve.

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