Thursday, May 10, 2012

parmesan polenta

We're always looking for new things to try in the kitchen around here. (I think that's something that most serious home cooks, aspiring cooks, and people trying to find new easy-and-quick recipes have in common.) Especially when it comes to our starchy or grainy side dishes.

We eat mashed potatoes like they are a staple. A lot of rice passes through our kitchen, in many different forms. Roast potatoes, sweet potatoes are common, easy side dishes. If we're  That's not really all that much variety, though. If every day of my week I have some sort of rice or potato on my plate ... that's rather boring.

All that being the case, I'm a little bit ashamed to admit that I've never made polenta. Part of this comes from my childhood dislike of Italian food. (Have I ever told you of my extreme tomato aversion?) Italian, and Italian inspired, dishes have been working their way into my kitchen for year, though. I love pastas, risottos, and am having a bit of a love affair with the hunk of parmigiana-reggiano in my fridge right now.

Other reasons there is no excuse for my not having had polenta so far? I love cornmeal muffins. I love corn. And tortillas. And everything. So I solved that today.

This is, of course, only a first attempt. I took inspiration from two culinary favourites: Lynn Crawford and Giada de Laurentiis. But let's be honest, I didn't use either of their recipes. I got ideas for proportions and methods then went entirely in my own direction.

I found it a little bit bland on its own, but I served it with roast chicken and glazed carrots. The chicken and gravy were nice enough with it, but oh the carrots. The sweetness from the glaze gave the polenta a new life. The grainy texture of the polenta practically melted into the sweet glaze.

Parmesan Polenta

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 4 cups water or chicken stock, plus 2 cups on reserve
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup grated parmesan/parmigiana-reggiano (I had the good stuff and went a little crazy. That stuff begs to be grated. And eaten as is, or maybe with some honey and glazed walnuts. And grated more.)
Directions:
  1. Bring 4 cups water or chicken stock to boil.
  2. Reduce heat to a simmer, stir in the cornmeal. Wisk this up thoroughly at this point.
  3. Continue to cook for about 30 minutes, wisking frequently.
  4. While cooking, add additional water/stock in 1/4 cup increments as needed. You'll know when you need it; the texture of the polenta will get thick and the whole thing will stiffen. Don't sweat it. Just add the liquid in as needed.
  5. Turn heat waaaaay down. Mix in butter and parmesan, and stir until things are all melted through.
  6. Eat this. Serve with something with strong, pronounced flavours (like the carrots, or maybe a big meat sauce).

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