soft polenta proportions
my question got a little lost in the wonderful responses about braising lamb shanks. so...fresh start here (now that the shanks are firmly in hand):
soft polenta for 9. how much polenta and how much stock? going under lamb shanks but one person is not having lamb...just polenta and salad (their choice). would rather have more than less. i do have a large pot so can make a good amount...just unsure of the proportions and how much is needed. thanks.
My normal ratio is 4:1 liquid to cornmeal--that translates to 2 c. liquid and 1/2 c cornmeal for the two of us, with leftovers. So I think if you want to be sure to have enough I would go 8 cups of liquid and two cups of cornmeal. I use half water, half milk. Add some salt and pepper early, cheese at the end if you like. Will you be make this at the last minute? If not, how do you plan to keep it soft?
Barbara Kafka, whose book 'Microwave Gourmet', says use 8 cups of liquid, milk, water , stock, or combo to 1.5 cups of polenta. This makes wonderful and perfect soft polenta. For hard use 2.5 cups of polenta. Again, l recommend the 1.5 cups, worked perfectly everytime.
I typically start it with a 4:1 ratio, and then as it cooks add more liquid to get the consistency I want. I usually end up with a 5:1. The longer you cook the cornmeal the liquid it absorbs (plus there is evaporation).
Starting with 2c of cornmeal and 8 of liquid should end up with 10 or so cups of polenta, enough for 10 good servings.
I like the 4:1 ratio as well. This is an unorthodox method, but I find it works well for creamy, lump-free polenta. Put the cold liquid (I usually use water, but stock or milk plus water also works well) and the cornmeal into a heavy pot. Le Creuset is my favorite. Turn the heat to high and whisk constantly until the polenta thickens and begins to bubble. Immediately transfer the pot to a smaller burner, over very low heat and preferably fitted with a flame tamer, then cook the polenta, whisking occasionally, for 30 minutes or so. This method is so much easier than gradually sprinkling the cornmeal into boiling water a pinch at a time. Finish with grated cheese.