If I excitedly mutter the words polenta the response I normally receive is a grunt of utter disappointment and dread! This saddens me desperately because polenta is not only filling and inexpensive but it’s warming, full of flavour and just perfect for this time of year. The key to polenta is flavour, literally pump it with flavour. At home my children call it Italian mash so for them they know no different at all.
I run supper clubs every 2 weeks at the delicious Italian Shop just off Collingwood Road in Northampton and have been for just over 5 years. They give me a great opportunity to feed wonderful diners new recipes I’ve been working on and new ingredients that both I and Adriana come across. Polenta is always a winner because of how I choose to make and almost whip it. There are 2 forms of polenta, the slow cook (Bramata) which takes approx. 45 minutes and is superior if time allows, and then there’s the quick cook varieties takes roughly 8 minutes.
Polenta is so incredibly versatile. From using the grain in a delicious polenta cake (as per my first cookbook ‘Southern Italian Family Cooking’) from mixing the grain with breadcrumbs and coating either chicken pieces or fish prior to frying or by making my soft whipped milk polenta. Silky in texture with a reassuring smooth mellow flavour. The secret as I mentioned above is making sure you add lots of flavour but also when making the polenta to use a whisk when stirring and not a wooden spoon because you need to eradicate any chance gritty lumps will form.
Whipped Milk Polenta
200ml Stock Vegetable or chicken
50g Butter (I use salted)
80g Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
Salt and pepper, as required
Soft fresh herbs, chopped as required
- Start by warming up the milk and chosen stock to a simmer.
- Slowly pour in the polenta but ensure you are whisking as you do. Note: Pour the polenta grains in very slowly otherwise lumps with form.
- The polenta will gradually thicken. You are looking for a lose mash consistency. Stir with your whisk for approx. 6 to 8 minutes.
- Taste and season well. Take the polenta off the heat and finish with the salted butter and grated Parmigiano. Add fresh chopped herbs as required. Serve immediately.
The photo is of my polenta pizza!