Polenta is typical from Central and Northern Italy. It is obtained by cooking cornmeal in salted water. Each region in Italy has its own typical version of polenta. It can be made “hard” to be served in slices, or soft and creamy. The more finely ground the cornmeal is, and the more water, the softer and creamier your polenta will be.

Polenta can be made using different types of flour. The most common are

  • yellow (made with yellow cornmeal)
  • white (made with white cornmeal)
  • saracena (made with a mix of buckwheat flour and white cornmeal)
  • taragna (made with a mix of buckwheat flour and yellow cornmeal)

This is the recipe to make the “hard” type of polenta using yellow cornmeal. The cornmeal must be coarsely ground, and the flour:water ratio is 1:4.

Ingredients (for two people)

  • 200 g of coarse yellow cornmeal
  • 800 ml of water
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp of salt (a bit more than 1/2 Tbsp)

To make polenta it is important to use a good pot that evenly distributes heat.

(1) Bring the water to a boil and add the salt. (2) Lower the heat to low and very slowly, to avoid the formation of clumps,  add the cornmeal mixing with a whisk. (3) Cook stirring every 3 or 4 minutes with a wooden spatula, mixing the bottom layer with the top layer.  After the first 45 minutes the polenta begins to detach from the sides of the pot, and is practically cooked. But, because the more the polenta cooks the better it will be, continue to  cook and mix for other 20 minutes.

When ready put the polenta on a wooden board. Do this turning the pot upside-down with a quick movement so that the polenta will keep a “cake-like” shape.

Serve immediately, very warm, with your choice of sauce. Here is some example:

Coniglio con le olive alla ligure

Veal spezzatino with polenta

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