The story of polenta
Polenta, a typical dish of the Italian peasant tradition, is known as a poor dish, because it is prepared with only two ingredients: water and flour. In ancient times polenta was prepared with other flours, for example the ancient Romans prepared it with spelled flour. Today, on the other hand, a yellow corn flour is commonly used, and it can be found coarser or finer ground (polenta bramata or polenta fioretto).
It is cooked in boiling water, until it is thick and creamy like a porridge. It can be served hot with some sauce, or it can be chilled and then fried or grilled.
How can you eat it?
Cooking the polenta takes from 40 minutes to an hour, depending on the type of corn used and the desired texture. However, precooked polenta flours are widespread on the market, and they cook in 5/10 minutes. We can therefore use polenta when we are in a hurry as a substitute of pasta, bread or rice, or even to make a delicious appetizer.
Polenta in different regions of Italy
Polenta is a very popular meal in the Northern Italy, where the weather is colder especially during the winter, but you can find polenta specialties in all of the country.
In Piemonte you can find the famous “polenta concia”, obtained adding cheese and butter when polenta is still really hot; in Valtellina in really popular the “polenta taragna”, made with a mix of corn and buckwheat flour. They are often served with roasted sausages, game stew and cheese sauce. In Veneto it’s possible to find a white polenta, made with a different kind of corn, served with stewed cuttlefish. In Campania and in Puglia corn polenta is fried and served as street food (“scagliozzi”). In Lazio, where I come from, polenta is usually eaten with a rich tomato sauce made with sausages and pork ribs and a lot of grated parmigiano cheese.
In short, polenta as well as rice and pasta is a truly versatile food that you can use to create an infinity of different and tasty dishes.
- Valsugana Instant Polenta (Waitrose, delicatezza.co.uk, nifeislife.com)
- Divella Istant Polenta (delicatezza.co.uk)
- Santa Caterina Instant Polenta (delicatezza.co.uk)
- Biona Organic Polenta Bramata (Holland & Barrett)
- Santa Caterina Polenta Rustica Bramata (delicatezza.co.uk)