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Polenta experiment

tseptember Dec 16, 2012 11:52 AM

I hope I'm not "reinventing the wheel". Has anyone experimented with making polenta with Grits or Cream O Wheat. If so, was the outcome favorable or undesirable.

  1. paulj Dec 20, 2012 08:45 AM

    By 'making polenta' do you mean making a porridge, or frying or baking slabs of a porridge?

    Polenta is an old Italian term for porridge, made with a variety of grains. The corn version has become so common that it is the default form. Still I have seen commercial mixes that include buckwheat flour, and have read of using chestnut flour to make 'polenta'.

    'Roman gnocchi' starts with a porridge made with semolina. Semolina is like farina (Cream of Wheat) but made from harder (durum) wheat.

    Chickpea flour is also cooked as a porridge, and then squares fried. It goes by different names in various parts of Italy and the Med (e.g. Sicilian panella)

    Fried cornmeal mush is an old American dish. Fried leftover Cream of Wheat and oatmeal were part of my mom's weekly breakfast rotation.

    2 Replies
    1. re: paulj
      cheesemaestro Dec 20, 2012 09:21 AM

      Buckwheat polenta (taragna) is a traditional dish of Lombardy. Moretti, which markets several different kinds of polenta (or rather the dried grain used to make polenta), exports it to the US. As you note, it is a mix of corn and buckwheat.

      Preferences for polenta vary in Italy. Northerners prefer a relatively coarse grind, while southerners like it ground fine.

      1. re: cheesemaestro
        paulj Dec 20, 2012 09:29 AM

        I recently found, at clearance prices, a fine grind polenta from Argentina

        The texture reminds me of quick grits, and like those it improves by cooking longer than indicated on the package.

    2. p
      pitterpatter Dec 19, 2012 06:41 PM

      Corn polenta is typically made from simply medium ground corn meal. Grits are made from corn treated with lye, as is masa and hominy. The term "polenta" is used rather loosely these days in NYC, and one the best preparations I've had was made from chickpea flour.

      2 Replies
      1. re: pitterpatter
        paulj Dec 20, 2012 08:36 AM

        I too used to think that grits were made from hominy, but after research have concluded that they rarely are. Stone ground gits millers make a big deal about using the whole grain (hominy is hulled). Quaker and others may use the term 'hominy grits', but that is not the same as 'grits made from hominy'. They hull and degerminate their corn by mechanical means (possibly with the help of steam). I've discussed this more fully in other 'grits v polenta' threads.

        1. re: paulj
          Will Owen Dec 21, 2012 11:10 AM

          Judging by the flavor, I think Quaker and Albers quick grits are from nixtamalized corn; they have that odd alkaline whang that we hominy lovers enjoy so much. However, although I keep a box of that kind for my own enjoyment, my current polenta stock is what remains of a ten-pound bag of stoneground whole-grain corn grits I ordered online. Quite delicious, fine corn flavor, awfully good with some shredded Fontina stirred in.

      2. annagranfors Dec 17, 2012 08:25 PM

        Slightly off topic, because I haven't experimented with making polenta at all. But every time I hear the word, I'm put in mind of Alan Davies talking about polenta on the superlative UK "quiz show" QI (Quite Interesting), hosted by the superlative Stephen Fry.


        ...it's at the very first part of the video. And I'm fairly sure Alan's not being deprecative, he's just seen "Treasure of the Sierra Madre" one too many times.

        These have been bleak times of late, and this video will more than likely make you laugh quite a bit. And watch the other QI clips that will no doubt be featured on the page if you click. It's a horrible shame that this show's not on in the US.


        2 Replies
        1. re: annagranfors
          Glencora Dec 17, 2012 08:52 PM

          Thanks. Funny. I adore Steven Fry (especially since a friend of my son's ran into him at an atheists' club meeting at Harvard two years ago) and I've never seen Alan Davies so young. I can't help but suspect that he's a bit of a d**k in real life, but never mind. I still loved Whites.

          As far as polenta goes, I say no to Cream of Wheat.

          1. re: Glencora
            ferret Dec 17, 2012 08:58 PM

            There's a restuarant in Chicago that has a savory preparation of Cream of Wheat that's absolutely delcious.

        2. Samalicious Dec 16, 2012 04:55 PM

          Polenta and grits not too far apart. I find Cream Of Wheat ooky no matter what you call it.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Samalicious
            PotatoHouse Dec 20, 2012 06:35 AM

            Even if you call it Furina? LOL

          2. s
            Sal Vanilla Dec 16, 2012 03:20 PM

            I think a commenter "loco" on this http://www.seriouseats.com/talk/2008/... lays it out perfecty.

            1. k
              kengk Dec 16, 2012 01:16 PM

              In my opinion, grits and polenta are the same thing. Here is a long thread on the subject.

              2 Replies
              1. re: kengk
                Will Owen Dec 16, 2012 02:35 PM

                Yes - I'm serving my favorite shrimp & grits recipe for our family's Christmas lunch, and using stoneground whole-corn grits, which is basically the same as polenta entero.

                Cream of Wheat gets no love around this house, nor has Mrs. O begged me to make any bulgur wheat or groats or whatever. I have a hard enough time promoting steel-cut oats. Any sort of quinoa gets a good reception, and of course there are lots of other grains people have eaten and relished over the millennia to try.

                1. re: Will Owen
                  coll Dec 16, 2012 03:24 PM

                  I've made shrimp and grits Greek style, and called it polenta for my husband's Italian family, and got rave reviews. Yes it is the same thing basically, but Southern style with shrimp is different enough to get everyone's attention.

              2. f
                foodieX2 Dec 16, 2012 11:57 AM

                I booked marked this quite some time ago. I made it for my family and they loved it.


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