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I have recently fallen in love with Polenta

It's borderline obsessive. My husband is not pleased.

What are some of your favorite recipes? How can I make this love affair more pleasant for my DH?

My standard is mushrooms and home canned summer tomatoes.

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  1. Lots of Parmesan, herbs and caramelized onion. Also very good with a ragout (I love wild boar) or Bolognese sauce.

    Perhaps your husband would enjoy it grilled, maybe with grilled sausages? Or sliced into finger fries?

    1 Reply
    1. re: chefathome

      With Rabbit Ragu (Ragu di Coniglio), or with any other game or meat. Also, for breakfast ,it is an old U.S. favorite with butter or milk and sugar.

    2. Male sure you review this thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/454690. Now that making polenta is so easy, I make it far often. I prefer a soft polenta; not hardened and fried.

      My husband is willing to eat polenta, but is much more enthusiastic when braised meat is served on top. Braised lamb shanks is the preferred topping.

      10 Replies
        1. re: Sharoneonta

          Oh wait, that's not working. Do you happen to know the thread title?

            1. re: c oliver

              I am going to try this method, sounds rich and wonderful.

              1. re: c oliver

                I'll go you one easier - whisk 1c polenta into 4c water in a big Pyrex bowl. Add a big pinch of salt. Microwave uncovered on high for 6 minutes. Stir, cover, and microwave on high for another 6 minutes. Stir again, add whatever extras you want, and let stand 6 more minutes. Done.

                1. re: alanbarnes

                  I was waiting for you to post this. I haven't tried it yet but am going to. Honest.

                  1. re: alanbarnes

                    An important thing is the bowl be big enough so it can't boil over - at least 2qts for this 1qt recipe.

                2. re: Sharoneonta

                  coliver fixed it.... my link added the stupid period. Yes, it was absolutely the thew thread. You will love it!

                  1. re: smtucker

                    I'm like you. With this easy and no-fail method, I don't hesitate to fix it. I probably mentioned it in the post but I use the larger amount of water (6 cups?)

                    I mentioned on some other thread that I have a dish at a restaurant that I keep meaning to fix at home. They saute some sliced Italian sausage, sliced garlic, tomatoes in a decent but not huge amount of oo. Fry up some wedges of polenta. Pour the sausage stuff over the polenta. Top with basil and pinenuts. Grated Parm. I order it there every time.

            2. My husband doesn't like it much either, but copious additions of bacon and cheese have brought him around. Chipotles, too. He also much prefers it cooled, sliced and fried to soft and fresh. And if there are short ribs of any kind served with it, he's a very happy camper.

              1 Reply
              1. re: biondanonima

                My BF likes it with easier spicy Italian sausage or, in a less traditional twist, with pulled pork. It's definitely cold-weather food.

              2. Do you add anything to the polenta after it is cooked but before topping it? I like to mix in any one or a combination of the following: mascarpone, grated parmigianno reggiano, heavy cream, an egg yolk or two, sour cream. Also, salt the water and add a bay leaf and some olive oil then let it come to a boil and add the polenta. I think a ragout is one of the best toppings for polenta: mushroom, Bolognese, sausage, wild boar (or pork), etc. Buon appetito!

                1. I'm with the others on the ragout idea. Lately I've been making a soft polenta w/a ragout of sauteed mushrooms, prosciutto and shallots and topped with a fried (runny-yolked) egg.

                  1. I make a simple recipe (the corn meal mush recipe on the back of the Quaker corn meal canister) and spread it into a greased cookie sheet and let it solidify for a few hours. I then cut it into squares and pan fry it so you get a little crunch.

                    I also use the squares (non fried ones) to make deconstructed tamale type things. I roast vegetables and make a chipotle/sour cream sauce for the top.

                    I also eat if for breakfast with a soft poached egg or sunny side up egg with some salsa Verde and guacamole on it. It can be a good substitute for grits.

                    The possibilities are endless.

                    1. Treat it like lasagna. Make a soft polenta, pour a 1/2 inch thick layer on a buttered ovenproof pan. Add some ragout, grated Parmesan, pieces of mozzarella or young cheese. Pour some more polenta and repeat ending with sauce and a generous sprinkle of Parmesan. Bake for 25-30 min at cake temperature until bubbly and slightly golden on top.

                      1. I just made lasagne using polenta instead of lasagne. Spread hot polenta into a layer, bechamel, then meat sauce and a little parmesan, repeat. Fabulous (and gluten free!).

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: susan1353

                          Whoa, that sounds amazing. Brilliant idea. I'm sure M. Hazan would even approve :)

                        2. I love polenta.

                          A nice grilled, boneless Morrocan spiced leg of lamb, served over a soft wild mushroom and mint polenta.

                          It captures all those wonderful juices from the lamb which goes very well with the hint mint.

                          1. How are you treating this cornmeal mush? Is the star of the show, or a starch to go with a hearty beef stew? What types of dishes does your husband like?

                            It's one thing to interest a meat and potatoes guy in peposo (a peppery beef shank stew) on top of polenta, quite another to repeatedly serve him a vegetarian main dish.

                            1. Luckily he prefers the soft creamy version.

                              I do it the old fashioned way 6 cups of water, 1 & 1/2 cups of polenta. Cook for at least 45 minutes. I usually add butter and parmesan, I added cream cheese once and I didn't like it but I think marscapone would be an improvement.

                              I tend to make a ragu of tomato and mushroom, I have made a short rib ragu and that was a hit but we are trying to be heart healthy...hence some of my dilema. I really like the lasagne idea.

                              I'm going to spend the next few hours lost in the thread you provided.

                              Thanks all. Keep 'em comin'!

                              11 Replies
                              1. re: Sharoneonta

                                Polenta by itself is not particularly healthy. When poor Italians were forced to live on little else, they developed medical problems, mostly from a niacin deficiency. Plus the amino acid mix in corn like this is not particularly balanced. Nixtamalization, as used for hominy and Mexican tortillas, gives corn a better nutritional profile. A further problem with polenta (and grits) is that, to make it interesting, we often load it with butter, oil and cheese.

                                1. re: paulj

                                  I can assure you we are not existing on polenta alone.

                                  1. re: Sharoneonta

                                    You didn't write anything that gave ME that impression.

                                  2. re: paulj

                                    Polenta can be healthy if you ease off on the rich toppings (and it's not the only meal you eat for weeks on end, but then that's true of everything). Plus, nowadays you can get less refined cornmeal that retains more of its nutritional value and fibre.

                                    1. re: piccola

                                      Everything in moderation including moderation.

                                      1. re: piccola

                                        Refining had nothing to do with pellagra. This disease occurs among people who grow and grind their own corn, not just people who buy Quaker degerminated cornmeal.
                                        "Pellagra can be common in people who obtain most of their food energy from maize (often called "corn"), notably rural South America where maize is a staple food. Maize is a poor source of tryptophan as well as niacin if it is not nixtamalized. "

                                        1. re: paulj

                                          I was making two separate points regarding the healthiness of polenta.

                                          Re: pellagra -- that's why I said polenta is healthy if it's not the only thing you eat all the time.

                                          The "less refined" part was just a general observation, not related to that particular disease.

                                          1. re: piccola

                                            Other than a bit more fiber, how does unrefined (e.g. stone ground) corn meal differ from Quaker?

                                            1. re: paulj

                                              Well, I mostly like the texture better. The downside is that it takes longer to cook, but I bake it in the oven, so it's hands off anyway.

                                              1. re: piccola

                                                Texture may have more to do with the grind size.

                                                I just watched a ATK segment on polenta. In their testing they preferred the texture and taste of degerminate. However one the coarse grinds that Chris showed was BobsRedMill Grits/Polenta (which is not labeled as either stone ground or degerminated).

                                                ATK suggested cooking the cornmeal with a pinch of baking soda, which by altering the ions at the granuals' surface, reduced the need for stirring - just 25 min with 2 stirrings.

                                  3. Here is a lovely way to enjoy it--Polenta with Bacon and Fontina (bacon makes everything better) http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo... and it is even better with a fried egg on top. Kind of an Italian version of grits and eggs:)

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: thegalleygourmet

                                      Well he's not home tonight. Ohhhhh Polenta, my sweet love, we are alone at last.

                                    2. How about polenta with cabbage and beans?


                                      Italians also sweetened it, for supper and breakfast, and added fruit.

                                      And there is the classic New England way - baked with molasses.

                                      6 Replies
                                      1. re: paulj

                                        Could you elaborate please about the molasses rendition?

                                        1. re: c oliver

                                          It is called "indian Pudding" and it doesn't mean from India. I grew up with this pudding and at least in my memory, love it. Indian Pudding is falling out of favor along with things like Brown Bread, and the other old corn recipes from the very early New England cuisine.

                                          If you want me to find one of my grandmother's versions, let me know.

                                          p.s. Quite a few versions in some standard cookbooks according to EYB. You probably have one of them.

                                            1. re: c oliver

                                              Not very good.... Do you own the original NYTimes, Essential NYTimes or King Arthur Whole Grain?

                                              1. re: smtucker

                                                No, but maybe KA's website will have it. I'll look. Right now I have to order dog treats/bribe.

                                            2. re: smtucker

                                              Indian Pudding is not out of favor in New England, it is on many restaurant menus and frequently shows up at dinner parties and potlucks in my circle.
                                              I like this one served with vanilla ice cream or unsweetened whipped cream.

                                        2. I love you people!

                                          Thanks for all the great ideas.

                                          1. Polenta is one of the greatest canvases of all time.
                                            Dealing with left-over polenta is both a challenge and a pleasure.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: steve h.

                                              I've actually added enought 'jus' to get it almost 'soupy.' A little grated Parm and pepper and it's a great lunch for me. When Bob's golfing or skiing.

                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                Adding the right fats to the polenta to go with the secondo is a marvelous challenge. A thinner polenta is always better than a thicker one.

                                                I have some left-over gorgonzola polenta in the coolerator that was originally paired with wine-braised short ribs. It was a good meal.

                                                Gorgonzola polenta is full of fat, or should be if you do it right. I reheated some of the short ribs in the braise and pan-fried some slices of the left-over polenta in a non-stick pan like a frico the other day and paired it with a decent Italian red. I'll do it again with the left-over leftovers.

                                                1. re: steve h.

                                                  We haven't eaten dinner yet and my salivary glands are doing a little dance.

                                            2. For something different, why not try Orange and Almond Polenta Cake? Looks good...

                                              This Fried Polenta with Crispy Garlic and Rosemary is truly delicious...http://www.ramblingtart.com/2010/08/0...

                                              1. I started serving creamy polenta on the side with pretty much all braised meats. We still enjoy mashed potates sometimes, but for a nice Italian flair with "pork osso buco" or even an Italian-style meatloaf, polenta is a wonderful alternative accompaniment. It's also a great option for meatless meals, with lentils and mushrooms. My grandmother often used to make baked polenta and serve it with her version of "sunday sauce", meaning tomato sauce slow-cooked with sausage, meatballs, pork ribs, etc.

                                                1. I love anything made of corn or hominy. Polenta, when well seasoned, is just such comfort food. I also love fried polenta cakes.

                                                  There is a Nepalese "polenta" if you will, a cornmeal mush (ato/dhido) that is eaten as the starch as an option instead of rice or flat bread with soupy curry and pickles. Polenta with curry, why not?

                                                  Recently, a friend showed me how to make polenta criolla, which reminded me of a more gourmet version of Tex-Mex 'tamale pie.' Polenta criolla/polenta venezolana is made with P.A.N. the Venezuelan cornmeal that is available in the US (it is non-nixtamalized masa harina/ similar to Italian polenta but I suppose made with a S. American variety of corn). A delicious tomatoey chicken (or meat of choice) stew is made replete with olives, capers, and raisins. This stew sandwiched between two layers of seasoned, buttery polenta and baked. It is very delicious.

                                                  1. I never cared for the plain polenta, until a friend ordered a creamy one in a restaurant.

                                                    This is the one I use and it's adapted from a blog during my search for an easy, creamy
                                                    polenta with parm cheese. My adaption is to bring the liquid to a boil and stream the polenta in while stirring with a wooden spoon. It's delicious.

                                                    Parmesan Polenta - adapted from A Slice of Feist


                                                    1/2 Cup Polenta

                                                    1 Cup Milk

                                                    1 & 1/4 Cup Water

                                                    1/2 Teaspoon Coarse Sea Salt

                                                    2 Tablespoons Butter

                                                    1/2 Cup Shredded Parmesan Cheese

                                                    A dash of Heavy Whipping Cream


                                                    Combine Polenta, Milk, Water and Salt in a small pot. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Stir a bit and allow to simmer for about 15 minutes with the lid cracked. If the polenta starts to get super thick, just add some water to thin it out a bit. Don’t be frightened, ya’ll.

                                                    Remove from heat and mix Parmesan, Butter and the dash of Cream into the Polenta. Salt to taste. If you like it a bit thinner, just add some more water and reheat. Serve immediately.

                                                    1. It's been said, but polenta with mascarpone is GODLY.

                                                      Also, I was leafing through magazines the other day and found this:
                                                      Looks mouthwatering.

                                                      1. Barbara Kafka 'Microwave Gourmet' has pages on how to get soft, hard, or middle polenta. It is a wonderful way to cook this dish. Try it.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                                          MG has a nice dessert polenta with berries.

                                                        2. I made this dish tonight and it is fabulous. I'll paraphrase. Slice up 1 large fennel bulb, 8 cloves of garlic, 5 roma tomatoes, 1 large onion. Take 6 chicken thighs and brown in skillet with a Tablespoon of olive oil on each side. Remove chicken, set aside. Add onion and fennel to pan, saute for 5 minutes, add garlic. Stir and deglaze with 1/4 cups of white wine. Toss in tomatoes, a handful of basil and parsley, toss in a handful of large green olives, put chicken back in skillet. Put skillet in a pre-heated 375 degree oven, uncovered for 45 minutes.
                                                          While that is cooking, bring a cup of milk and a cup of chicken stock to a low boil, stir in 1/2 cups of good polenta. Turn down to low and cover part way. Cook and stir for about 15 minutes. (If it's too thick, add a little water). Add 1/4 cup grated parm, stir and add 2 T. butter, a pinch of salt and pepper. And it you want it really creamy, add a knob of cream cheese. Stir and serve chicken with olives over polenta. Here's my picture of dinner tonight... It was fab.

                                                          1. When in Italy I had soft polenta with fontina cheese melted in and some sauteed radicchio mixed in. It was absolutely wionderful.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: Virginia Girl

                                                              I really like the idea of radicchio or something in the same family flavor wise.