Uncategorized What is polenta: cooking, serving, ideas for unusual dishes by Alex Bayev March 12, 2023 Published: March 12, 2023Last Updated on June 4, 2023 347 views 347 Polenta is particularly popular in Italian cooking. In this review you will learn what polenta is, how to cook it properly on the stove, in the microwave, pressure cooker and multicooker. Learn the classic ways to serve it and the unusual use of polenta in various dishes. Polenta is a porridge made from cornmeal and widely used in northern Italy. The term polenta is also used to refer to the flour itself used to make it. Prior to the importation of corn into Europe, polenta was made from coarse buckwheat or rice flour. Polenta is inferior in popularity to the other “Italians” in cooking – pasta, pesto sauce, and, of course, pizza. But I think this is completely undeserved. Polenta is not only delicious, but it also opens up new possibilities in cooking because it is a multifaceted ingredient. It can be cheesy, creamy, hearty, tender and sweet. Perhaps someone has already had a bad first experience with polenta. And the resulting pile of sticky and tasteless porridge put an end to your enthusiasm. To avoid such a result, let’s together understand what polenta is and how to cook it correctly. In this article: Types of polentaWhat is the difference between polenta and grits?What is the difference between polenta and cornmeal?How to cook polenta: ways and tricksClassic creamy polentaSpecial features of cooking in a pressure cooker/multi-cookerCooking in the microwaveSix tips for making the perfect polentaFried polentaBaked polentaIdeas for unusual dishes with polentaPaneerChipsBreadOpen CakePuddingCasserole“French Fries.”BakingLasagnaBruschettaStuffed vegetablesPizzaThickenerConclusionSources Types of polenta The versatility of polenta is due not only to the way it is prepared, but also to the different types currently available. On store shelves you can find polenta in coarse, medium and fine grind, instant and even ready-made porridge in tubes. Some varieties of polenta have buckwheat or rice flour added to them. Coarse-grained polenta will be thick and textured after cooking, while finely ground polenta will be smooth and creamy. What is the difference between polenta and grits? Although both polenta and grits are very similar, there are a few key differences. Place of origin. Polenta comes from Northern Italy, and the grits come from the southern United States. Corn variety. American grits are traditionally made with the more starchy, light-colored varieties of corn. Polenta, on the other hand, is made from Italian Otto File or Flint corn, which has a dark yellow color. Flavor and texture. For flour, the corn is finely ground and the outer shell sifted off. Polenta uses a coarse grind that retains more husks and nutrients and makes the texture denser. What is the difference between polenta and cornmeal? The simplest answer is that polenta is a dish and cornmeal is an ingredient. In addition, polenta is made from a special kind of corn flour derived from Italian stone-ground corn. With this grinding method the shell and germ of corn kernels are not sifted out. The texture of the flour is coarser, with a noticeable corn flavor. How to cook polenta: ways and tricks A polenta side dish is a great alternative to potatoes, pasta or rice, but has several key health benefits. Corn consists of complex carbohydrates, which take longer to break down and provide a longer supply of energy than the simple carbohydrates found in processed or refined grains. Corn does not contain gluten. This means that it is safe for people prone to allergies. Corn contains fiber, protein, and vitamin A3. These three dietary components help you feel full without overeating. Classic creamy polenta Before you start making polenta, make sure you have the right tools. You will need a large, thick-bottomed pot (copper in the classic Italian version), a whisk, and a wooden spoon. Boil five cups of water in a saucepan. Pour in an even stream of one cup of polenta, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or whisk. Do this as thoroughly as possible to avoid lumps. Reduce heat to low. Continue to whisk the polenta until it no longer sinks to the bottom of the pan. This will take about two minutes. Season with salt and continue to simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the polenta becomes thicker and eventually begins to pull away from the sides of the pan. This will take about 30 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add 4 tablespoons of butter (olive oil in vegan version), ground black pepper to the hot porridge and mix thoroughly. Add ¼ cup grated Parmesan if desired. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Delicious creamy, creamy polenta is ready. Serve it with vegetables, chili, meat or fish – The possibilities are endless. Freshly cooked hot polenta is especially good with dishes that are cooked with gravy. Polenta soaks up the flavor of the flavorful gravy and you have a wonderful side dish. It’s also served with grill menu. Special features of cooking in a pressure cooker/multi-cooker Cooking in a multicooker/ pressure cooker is a popular method because it does not require constant stirring, and the chance of sticking is minimal. To cook in a pressure cooker, mix 1 cup polenta and 5 cups water and whisk with a whisk. Close the lid and pressure cook on high power for 15 minutes. Then release pressure. Cooking time in the multicooker is almost the same as on the stove – 45 minutes. In the “Multicooker” mode set the temperature to 105 degrees Celsius or select the “Milk porridge” mode. After the end of cooking, open the lid of the pressure cooker/multi cooker and season the porridge. Cooking in the microwave If you’re making a small batch of polenta, such as for two people, you can speed up cooking by using the microwave. Whisk together ½ cup polenta and 2½ cups water in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover and cook on high power for 7-8 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes. Season the porridge to taste and serve at once. Six tips for making the perfect polenta Here are some ingredients and techniques to help you make delicious and hearty polenta at home. Replace the water with chicken or Vegetable broth. Cornmeal itself has a fairly neutral flavor, so cooked in broth will be much more flavorful. Do not overcook the polenta, or it may become too soft. Determine in advance the desired texture of the porridge. Add a pinch of baking soda when cooking. Polenta in an alkaline environment will cook faster and be creamier. Just don’t overdo the baking soda, or it will give the polenta a soapy flavor. If polenta bubbles and sputters even on the lowest heat, place the pot on the flame spreader. Be sure to add oil (butter or olive oil) at the end of cooking, it not only gives polenta a delicious sheen, but also a richer flavor and a silky texture. Cheese is another great addition to polenta. Together with butter you can add parmesan cheese, pecorino Romano or even gorgonzola or taleggio to make a cheese polenta with a thick and creamy texture. Use only good quality cheese, as its flavor will be dominant. Fried polenta Soft, creamy polenta is not the only dish you can make. Be sure to treat your family to fried polenta. To begin, boil the polenta as described earlier. Before removing the porridge from the heat, oil a baking dish or mold. Use a large dish for thinner slices and a smaller diameter but higher rimmed dish for thicker slices. Baked polenta For a more dietary option, you can bake the polenta in the oven. While the polenta is cooking, preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Add butter to the already cooked hot polenta. Stir the porridge with a wooden spoon until the butter is completely melted and the polenta is smooth. Add thyme (a teaspoon of fresh or ¼ tsp. dried is sufficient) and season to taste with black pepper. Place the polenta in an oiled baking dish and place in the oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the polenta is lightly browned. Take the dish out of the oven, allow to cool and slice. Serve with a variety of sauces, such as creamy mushroom or tomato sauces. Try using muffin tins to make the polenta look interesting. Children will especially enjoy this. Ideas for unusual dishes with polenta Polenta can be added to many dishes. Below, I have collected unusual, but in my opinion, noteworthy ideas for using polenta in cooking. Paneer Finely ground polenta is great for breading anything that needs a nice crunch. Try sprinkling polenta on potatoes, fish, or chicken before baking. Chips Cut the frozen polenta into thin strips and bake in the oven. The chips can be crunchy or you can use them to decorate salads and other dishes. Bread Replace half of the wheat flour with polenta fine flour and cook according to the recipe for regular bread. A denser baking texture allows you to make bread with various additions, such as tomatoes, herbs, olives, or peppers. Open Cake Place cooked polenta (you can use instant polenta) in a 2-3 cm thick layer on a baking tray. Add sausage and cheese, fresh herbs or mushrooms roasted with garlic on top. Pudding Cut the frozen polenta into small slices. Fry in a deep fryer. Sprinkle with sugar and lemon zest and garnish with a spoonful of mascarpone. Casserole Dice cooked or baked polenta. Wrap each cube with bacon and place on a baking tray. Pour over cream and bake in oven. Serve with baked chicken. “French Fries.” Cut the cooled polenta into strips about the same size as the French fries. Heat a cast-iron skillet with enough vegetable oil to submerge the polenta in it. Fry the polenta until it is golden brown and crispy. “Polenta fries” make a good side dish or appetizer. Serve it with tomato sauce or pesto sauce for dipping. Baking Use fine polenta instead of some of the flour when making pies. The dough will turn out crumbly and beautifully golden in color. And if you’re on a gluten-free diet, polenta is a budget-friendly substitute for special flour. Lasagna Spread the cooked hot polenta on sheets of parchment paper the thickness of a regular lasagna sheet and refrigerate. Then cook according to the recipe for regular lasagna. Though polenta sheets soften a bit when cooked, they hold up to any sauce, meat or cheese in the lasagna layers. Bruschetta Use fried polenta instead of bread to give your guests a different take on a classic appetizer. Top the slices with fresh tomatoes, cheese, olives or any other ingredient of your choice. Stuffed vegetables Use cooked, coarse polenta instead of other grains in stuffed vegetable recipes. Pizza Place the cooked polenta on a pizza tray or any other round form to set. Bake for 20 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius until lightly browned and crispy. Top with the pizza toppings and place in the oven for another 10-12 minutes. Thickener Finely ground polenta is used as a thickener in American soups, Creole gumbo, Caribbean curries and others. Conclusion Polenta is truly a favorite dish in Italy. There is even an annual celebration in its honor. In the town of Cermonetta in the province of Lazio, on this day polenta is cooked right outside on bonfires. They boil it in copper cauldrons, and the central square has a huge cauldron where all the town’s residents and guests can sample the beloved dish. All this action is accompanied by live music, various contests and street performances. Cook polenta to discover something new. I’m sure it will surpass all expectations and become a regular on your menu. Sources Wayane Gisslen – Professional Cooking Study Guide The America’s Test Kitchen – Cooking School Cookbook Food Wishes PinYumTweetShareTelegramVibeFlip0 Shares Leave a Comment Cancel Reply Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. Recipe Rating Recipe Rating Δ You may also like Revitalize Your Leftovers: How to Reheat Chicken Tenders... How much and how to cook quinoa correctly... Alex Bayev Hi, I'm Alex Bayev, bayevskitchen.com founder and food blogger who is passionate about cooking and photography. Since starting my blog in 2015, I have been sharing simple yet elegant recipes made with high-quality ingredients that anyone can recreate at home. I believe that food has the power to create unforgettable experiences.