Originating in Northern Italy, polenta is a ground cornmeal dish that has been eaten for centuries and is often likened to “Italian grits.” 16th century peasants and serfs ate creamy polenta as a simple yet satisfying meal, and today it remains a dish found in rustic cooking as well as fine dining establishments. While the creamy polenta version is still the most common, modern chefs have also introduced clever interpretations such as polenta fries, polenta cakes, and polenta on the grill.
What kinds of polenta products exist?
Making a creamy polenta dish from scratch means slowly mixing ground cornmeal with butter and milk over a heated surface. Sanniti Polenta Classicaand Riso Agrover Agronature Classic Polentaare both examples of a traditional ground cornmeal that you can use to make polenta the old-fashioned way. Thanks to modern conveniences, though, polenta does not always require intensive cooking. There are pre-cooked cornmeal polenta varieties such as San Gennaro Polenta Traditional Italianthat only require the reheating of the stove. There is also instant polenta that has not yet been mixed with water, such asSanniti Instant Polenta, which cooks more quickly than regular polenta but still requires an emulsifier such as butter or milk.
What can I make with polenta?
A traditional creamy polenta dish has plenty of butter and rich flavor and will be an ideal dish on a winter’s day. Served warm and hearty, polenta pairs well with roasted meats such as pork osso bucco and braised short ribs. You can also form polenta into a polenta cake, a cornmeal cake that has more form than the grits — or toss polenta in the oven to make polenta fries.