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pre-1940's recipes -- a challenge!

My favorite book to check out for that kind of information is The Virginia Housewife Or, Methodical Cook by Mary Randolph (published 1824). Here is a recipe, verbatim.

To Make Polenta

Put a large spoonful of butter in a quart of water, wet your corn meal with cold water in a bowl, add some salt, and make it quite smooth, then put it in the buttered water when it is hot, let it boil, stirring it continually till done; as soon as you can handle it, make it into a ball, and let it stand till quite cold -- then cut it in thin slices, lay them in the bottom of a deep dish so as to cover it, put on slices of cheese, and on that a few bits of butter; then mush, cheese and butter, until the dish is full; put on the top thin slices of cheese and butter, put the dish in a quick oven; twenty or thirty minutes will bake it.

Posted by evergene/ to on 25 Jul 1995.
Polenta and Mushroom Tart

I originally saw this recipe in the S.F. Chronicle, as a review of a Cook Book.... 365 Snacks, Hors D'oeuvres & Appetizers.

Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 40 to 42 minutes
Chill: 1 hour
Serves: 8

Serve in wedges with forks as a starter, or cut into bit-size squares to offer as individual appetizers.

3 shallots, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 lb wild or cultivated mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/4 cup medium dry sherry, like Amontillado
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 cups milk
2 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
1 cup instant polenta or yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons butter, cut into bits

1. In a large frying pan, cook shallots in olive oil over medium heat until softened but not browned, 1 to 2 minutes Add mushrooms and cook until mushrooms liquid is exuded and then evaporates, about 3 minutes. Add sherry and lemon juice and toss to coat. When sherry has nearly evaporated, remove from the heat. Stir in the parsley thyme, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Remove mushroom mixture from heat and set aside.

2. Use a 22-inch piece of plastic wrap to line inside of a 9-inch round cake pan, letting excess plastic drape over edges. For garnish, place 1 perfect mushroom slice and a small sprig of thyme in center.

3. In medium saucepan, combine milk, chicken broth, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt over high heat. When mixture boils, whisk in polenta in a slow steady stream. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring, 5 minutes, or until polenta is thickened to consistency of hot cereal. Remove from heat and stir in parmesan cheese and butter until well blended.

4. Pour half of polenta into prepared pan, talking care not to disturb center mushroom garnish. Using your fingers or a spoon, pat into an even layer. Spread mushroom mixture over ploenta, leaving a 1/2-inch border around edges. Top with remaining polenta, pressing down gently to seal. Cover with excess plastic wrap and let cool. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour, or as long as 2 days.

5. Preheat oven to 400'F. Unmold polenta onto a foil or parchment lined baking sheet and discard plastic wrap. Bake until heated through and golden around edges, about 30 minutes. Cut into pie-shaped wedges and serve warm.

O.K. That's the's the deal
- Cultivated mushrooms work fine
- I've found that all cooking time are a bit longer... for me
- Never used 22-inch plastic wrap...2 normal overlapping sheets work fine
- I like more of a decoration, and use 4 or 5 slices of mushrooms to line the pan
- I don't know what instant polenta is... I just go to the store and buy can use texture in less grainy, I prefer polenta
- Work fast after you stir in parmesan
- Using cool or cold water on your hands helps when pressing hot polenta into pan
- If you leave a little more of a border when spreading the mushroom mixture, it tends to be a better seam when removed from pan

Posted by Tim.Alford/ to on 9 Aug 1995.
Polenta Cooking Cheats

In Italy they do grind cornmeal coarser, but you can use American cornmeal with good results. It is traditionally a time consuming chore with long cooking and lots of stirring. Here's a coupla cheats from an improbably named book - Microwave Gourmet by Barbara Kafta
Soft Polenta

4 cups water
3/4 cup yellow or white cornmeal
2 teaspoons kosher salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup softened Gorgonzola cheese or 1/4 cup additional butter

1. Combine water, cornmeal, and salt in a 2-quart souffle dish. Cook, uncovered, at 100% for 6 minutes. Stir well, cover loosely with paper toweling, and cook for 6 minutes more, (If using a small oven, cook uncovered for 9 minutes; cover loosely and cook for 9 minutes.)
2. Remove from oven. Uncover and stir in butter, pepper, and cheese (or additional butter). Let stand for 3 minutes. Serve hot. Spicy Polenta - Use Monterey Jack or fresh goat cheese instead of Gorgonzola and add jalapeno pepper, stemmed, seeded and chopped. (serves 8)

Firm Polenta

This is the one you chill slice and fry or grill.
4 cups water
1 1/4 cups yellow or white cornmeal
2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Combine water, cornmeal and salt in a 2-quart souffle dish. Cook, uncovered, at 100% for 12 minutes, stirring once.
2. Remove from oven, stir in 3 tablespoons of the butter, and add the pepper. Let stand for 3 minutes.
3. Lightly grease a 7" X 4" X 2" loaf pan with half the remaining butter. Pour polenta into pan and brush with the last of the butter. Let stand until cool.
4. Cover and refrigerate until chilled. To serve, slice the polenta about 1/2 inch thick and fry or grill.

Posted by Ashbury/ to on 06 Aug 1995.
Martha Stewart's Individual Polenta Lasagnas

Recipe makes 2 (I doubled it and it actually made 5; after assembling, I froze 2 and baked them a week later and they were perfect!)

For the sauce:
1/4 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
1-1/2 teasp. olive oil
1-1/2 teasp. unsalted butter
1 small carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 small celery stock, peeled ot remove strings and finely chopped
1/2 small red onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 small clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
3 oz. ground sirloin
3 oz. ground veal
3 oz. ground pork
salt & pepper
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes (canned or boxed)
2 cups chicken stock (note: I only used 1 cup)
1/4 teasp. nutmeg

For the Polenta:
Olive oil for pan
2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon instant polenta
1/2 teasp. salt

For the bechamel sauce:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter + 1/4 teaspoon
2 tablespoons rice flour
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons milk
1/4 teasp. salt
1/4 teasp. nutmeg

Other ingredients:
10 oz. fresh spinach, washed
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

To make the sauce:

1. Place porcini in a small bowl and cover with 1/2 cup boiling water. Let soak 15 minutes. Lift mushrooms out of water, chop medium fine, and set aside. Strain the liquid through cheesecloth; set liquid aside.

2. In a large skillet, heat olive oil and butter over medium-low heat. Add carrot, celery, onion and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent, 3-4 minutes.

3. Add the meats, 1/2 teasp. salt, and 1/8 teasp. pepper; raise heat to high and cook, stirring occasionally, until meat has browned, about 4 minutes. Add wine and cook until liquid has evaporated, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, stock, chopped porcini, reserved porcini liquid and nutmeg. Lower heat to simmer, stirring occasionally, about 35 minutes; much of the liquid will evaporate. (This is where I cut the amount of stock in half, to only 1 cup...and I also added some tomato paste, because it seemed like it would have been much to watery otherwise)

To make the Polenta:

Lightly brush a 3x5 mini loaf pan with oil; set aside. In a medium saucepan, bring 2-2/3 cups water to a boil and add the salt. While constantly whisking the water, add the polenta in a slow steady stream. When all the polenta has been added, immediately reduce heat to low and let simmer, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, 3-5 minutes.

2. Remove the polenta from the heat, pour into prepared pan, and smooth the surface. Let stand until cook, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until cold and firm, about 4 hours.

To make the bechamel sauce:

1. In a saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium-low heat. Add rice flour and cook, stirring frequently, around 5 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring milk and salt to a boil. Slowly whisk the milk into the flour mixutre until completely incorporated and smooth. Add the nutmeg and reduce heat to low; simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat.

3. Hold the remaining 1/4 teasp. butter in your fingers and rub it over the surface of the bechamel; this will prevent a skin from forming.

To assemble the lasagna:

1. Heat 1/2 cup water in a medium skillet over medium-high heat; add spinach and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until wilted and tender, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and drain well in a colander. Squeeze out all the water, finely chop, and set aside.

2. Unmold polenta onto a clean surface. Using a serrated knife, trim the block of polenta to a length of 4 inches. Turn polenta on its side; slice 6 pieces as thin as possible (they should be around 1/8" thick)

3. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Spread 5 tablespoons of the meat sauce into each of two 12-ounce, individual ovenproof casseroles (note: I use pot pie ovals). Cover with 1 slice of polenta and spread 3 tablespoons of meat sauce evenly over. Spread 2 tablespoons of bechamel over the meat sauce and evenly distribute 2 tablespoons of the chopped spinach of the bechamel. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of Parmesan and cover with 1 slice of polenta. Repeat the layering process (3 tablespoons meat, sauce, 2 tablespoons bechamel, 2 tablespoons spinach, 2 tablespoons Parmesan, and 1 piece polenta). Spread 1 heaping tablespoon of bechamel sauce over the final layer of polenta, sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of Parmesan, and dot with 1/4 teaspoon butter. These can be prepared up to this point a day in advance; cover and refrigerate (however, let them come to room temp. before baking).

4. Bake until tops of lasagnas are golden brown and the juices are bubbling, about 25 minutes.

You could very easily make one large lasagna, but they are actually rather wonderful as individual lasagnas!

Posted by SCOUT338/AOL.COM to the Celiac list on 22 Feb 1996.
Polenta (& Help)

The problem I had with polenta was getting it solid enough to use with other ingredients (e.g. in a polenta lasagne). When I used jelly-like polenta, it seemed to disappear! But when I asked for help, I was not very specific at the start and I got a whole lot of wonderful suggestions for uses, as well as cooking techniques.

Ellen Eagan suggested using the microwave instead of a double-boiler. Mix up the polenta, and microwave it on high for 2-3 minute intervals, stirring between each. Keep at it until you get the right consistency (for Jane this takes about 8 minutes).

Ellen Switkes, who makes polenta from a packaged mix, has another method: "I add the polenta, water, a piece of butter and a little salt, pop the entire thing into the oven and bake for 50 minutes, stir once, bake another 10 minutes. Presto, great polenta, no constantstirring. You can add cheese or whatever you want at the 50 stage."

My favorite post came from Russell Baleson in Johannesburg, South Africa, who offered insight into how polenta is used elsewhere in the world, including a few new (to me!) thoughts on how polenta can be used. In an earlier message, he told me that polenta is one of his comfort foods, and these descriptions tell me why:

"Here are a few suggestions and I hope they work although I'd suggest you find an Italian shop somewhere and buy the packeted Polenta from them. All over the world the Italian polenta is relatively inexpensive, very quick to make, and usually delicious.

"However, the secret of 'thickness' is to make the mixture of corn and water as thick as you possibly can. It should be a tough dough-like mixture although not too thick to be dry and crumbly, and then leave it in a pot over a low heat for AT LEAST thirty minutes.

"In South Africa, the staple diet of most of the different cultures is something called pap (pronounced more like pup) which is a very stiff consistency white corn meal. Everyone eats it and it is served with any kind of meat or gravy, honey, vegetables or basically anything. No barbeque is ever without pap!

"The other thing you can do with polenta is to take your finished product, even if it's not too thick and put it in a baking pan, bread-size is best and leave it in a fairly hot oven for about thirty minutes. When ready, it is quite firm and can be cut into slices for lunches, quick cold meals, to be covered with other foods, etc. I like it best once it has cooled or been refrigerated."

Posted by Linda Blanchard to the Celiac list on 25 May 1996.
Polenta: Northern Italian Style

The following recipe comes from Joe Ames. In it he seems to have answered my question about what consistency the polenta needs to be when I turn it out: it should have stiffened and it will pull away from the sides of the pan.

5 1/2 c. water
1 3/4 - 2 c. yellow corn meal (Quaker Brand), coarse

Pour water into large heavy pot (cast iron if available), add salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat so water is just simmering. Pour the corn meal slowly using a wire whisk egg beater (or through your fingers) in a steady slow stream, while churning the corn meal and water with the whisk (to minimize lumping of corn meal) until all of the corn meal has been used up. Stir with whisk a few times, then cover and cook at low temperature. Stir mixture thoroughly every few minutes with whisk or wooden spoon for about 30 to 45 minutes or until mixture stiffens and pulls away from the sides of the pan. The polenta is ready.

Slowly invert the polenta on to a wooden or plastic serving board or large dish, shaping to resemble a cake. Using a double strand of white sewing thread begin slicing polenta into "bread slices" by cutting from one side and then from the other side. To keep polenta warm, cover with a clean, white dish towel. Serve. Polenta in Italy is served as a substitute for bread and can be served with any dish, stew or fish. If any polenta is left over, let it cool, wrap it up in the white dish towel and place in refrigerator for later use. It can be toasted in the toaster oven an eaten with your favorite cold cuts, salads or your next main meal. The crust that is left in the pan, when dried, is like tortilla chips. Delicious.

The most important part of this preparation is to "gelatinize" the corn, that is to cook it long enough, measure your cooking time from the time it starts bubbling, when its good and hot.If you want to experiment, this can be done in about 1/3 the time in the microwave, covered with plastic wrap, and stirred a few times. Have fun.

Posted by Linda Blanchard to the Celiac list on 25 May 1996.
Pan Browned Polenta

1 small onion, finely chopped
3 tablespoons each minced green bell pepper and drained, minced oil-packed dried tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
About 1/4 cup oil from dried tomatoes; or 1/4 cup olive oil
4 1/2 cups regular-strength chicken broth
1 1/2 cups polenta (Italian-style cornmeal) or yellow cornmeal

In a 4- or 5-quart pan over medium heat, combine onion, bell pepper, tomatoes, garlic, and 2 tablespoons of the oil. Cook, stiring occasionally, until onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add 3 cups of the broth; bring to a boil, uncovered, over high heat.

Meanwhile, mix polenta with remaining 1 1/2 cups broth. Using a long-handled spoon, gradually stir polenta mixture into boiling broth; it will thicken and spatter. Reduce heat to low and continue stirring for 5 more minutes. Remove from heat and at once spoon polenta into a 4- by 8-inch loaf pan. Let stand for 30 minutes to firm (or let cool, then cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days).

Run a knife around edges of pan and turn polenta out onto a board. Carefully cut crosswise into 8 slices; cut slices diagonally in half.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 10- to 12-inch nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Add as many polenta slices as will fit without crowding. Cook, uncovered, turning as needed, until golden on each side, about 5 minutes; remove from pan and keep warm. Repeat to cook remaining polenta, adding more oil to pan as needed.

From Joe S. Warren in Titusville, Florida.
Posted by Linda Blanchard to the Celiac list on 25 May 1996.
Italian Chef's Polenta

I wrote down this Polenta Recipe from the Italian Chef on T.V. Bebi or Bebbi?

9 cups of water
2 Tablespoons of Salt
2 cups coarse corn meal
1 cup of fine corn meal (she said she likes this combination, you could adjust yours to your pleasing.)

She uses a wisk and puts in a handful of corn meal at a time. It is not a just put in a handful, then whisk around a bit, then put in another handful...

It seems so simple. I suppose you could augment this with some grated italian cheese.

The presentation:
the corn meal polenta is placed on a cutting board and squared off, then sliced. Put slices on a plate and put some of your favorite spaghetti mushroom sauce (or any combination) over it. Or you could put into an oblong pan, refrigerate and then slice it and serve it chilled.

How's that? Anyone else see this, or use make polenta in this method? I'd like to hear before I try it...

Posted by Andy K. in San Francisco to on 10 Jul 1996.
Polenta using Garbanzo Flour

In the very old days polenta was made from garbanzo beans, (chick-peas, "ceci" to the Italians), you will have no trouble finding garbanzo flour in any Italian market.(according to the cookbook)

1 quart water
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups garbanzo flour
1/2 teaspoon whole thyme
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Bring the water to a boil and add the salt. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the garbanzo flour, using a wire whip. Work fast and stir hard or you will get lumps. Return the pan to the burner and cook stirring with a wooden spoon, until it is very thick, about 15 minutes. It should be as thick as hot breakfast cereal. Add the remaining ingredients and pour the mixture into an oiled bread pan. Chill overnite, covered. Slice the polenta 1/4 inch thick and pan-fry in olive oil, just before dinner.
Serves 6 as a side dish

This is all I could find right now, I'll keep my eyes open for more as I love polenta also. My friend that was raised in Italy wont even talk polenta to me as that was just about all they had to eat during hard times, and eating polenta meant you were poor. To others it is "comfort" food.

Posted by CKochsimmo to on 12 Jul 1996.
Fried Polenta with Porcini Mushrooms

Basic Polenta recipe
Vegetable oil for frying
2 ounces imported dried porcini mushrooms soaked in 2 cups lukewarm water for 20 minutes
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 pound fresh shiitake mushrooms, wiped lean, stemmed, and sliced
1/4 pound fresh chanterelle mushrooms, wiped clean, stemmed and sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Prepare the polenta several hours or a day ahead so it will become very firm. Pour the polenta onto a platter or cookie sheet and spread it uniformly to approximately 1/2 inch thick. When you are ready to fry the polenta, cut it into eight slices.
Heat one inch of oil in a medium-size nonstick skillet over medium heat. When oil is hot, fry the slices of polenta a few at a time until they are lightly golden on both sides, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the polenta with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Keep the polenta warm in a low oven while you are preparing the mushrooms. Strain the porcini and rinse well under cold running water several times to get rid of sandy deposits. (Reserve the soaking water for use in a mushroom soup or stew after straining it through a double thickness of paper towels) Chop the porcini roughly.
Heat the olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat. When the butter foams, raise the heat to high and add the mushrooms, making sure not to crowd the skillet or the mushrooms will not brown properly. Cook and stir until the mushrooms are lightly golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic and parsley and cook briefly. Season with salt and several grinds of pepper.
Place the polenta on individual serving dishes, top with the mushrooms, and serve at once.
Makes 4 servings

Posted by CKochsimmo to on 12 Jul 1996.
Any good polenta recipes?


Posted by Paula (nvestig8/ on 11 Jul 96:

I'm looking for ways to serve it, and also anything to add to it while it's cooking. I've tried Polenta with Brie, and Polenta with Asparagus. Both delicious but would like more ideas.

Posted by Mary f(pud) (maryf/ on 12 Jul 1996:

I like jalapenos added to it, or cheese. Parmesan and or Monteray Jack. I like your idea of brie, that sounds good :-). Red roasted peppers is good too.

Posted by Robin Ringo (RRingo/ on 17 Jul 1996:

my favorite is with chopped sage (just a little) and gorgonzola.

Posted by Terry Pogue (tpogue/ on 13 Jul 1996:

Have you seen Barbara Kafka's book MicroWave Gourmet? She has a dynamite recipe for polenta topped with Red Peppers and Onions done in a bit of olive oil in the microwave. Or maybe I was the one who decided it would be terrific atop polenta. Anyway it's really tasty.

Posted by lasseter/ on 14 Jul 1996:

At the last restaurant I worked at we served several types of polenta. The most popular was cinnamon/basil and a polenta made with blue cornmeal, bermuda onions, and bleu cheese. For the cinnamon add 50% more butter than called for in your recipe and as much cinnamon and fresh chopped basil as you like.

For the blue polenta make like normal using the blue corn meal. We sauteed up a fair amount of bermuda onions and added half to the polenta. The other half was spread on top of the polenta. We finished it by sprinkling bleu cheese crumbles over it. We let it set so the cheese melted a little and then cut and served.
Polenta and Duck

This recipe was featured in the March 1994 issue of Texas Monthly,

[duck recipe snipped]


3 cups chicken broth
1 cup cornmeal
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup butter
4 bunches arugula, for garnish

Bring broth to boil in saucepan and add cornmeal. Cook on low heat for 25 minutes, stirring constantly to achieve a creamy consistency. Season and then stir in butter.

To serve, spoon some polenta onto each warmed plate; arrange duck slices on top and one leg alongside. Ladle sauce over duck and garnish each plate with a generous bunch of arugula. Serves 4.

Posted by Jeane Bell (jeanski/ to on 12 Jul 1996:
Polenta with Leeks & Gorgonzola Garnished with Caramelized Fennel & Onion

From The New Vegetarian Epicure by Anna Thomas - a terrific book!

2 large white fennel bulbs
3 large yellow onions
5 tbsp.fruity green olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper
2/3 cup dry red wine
2 very large leeks,white only (about 11/2 cups,sliced)
1 tsp.butter
6-7 cups any low-salt vegetable broth
1 cup coarse or regular polenta
3 oz. gorgonzola cheese
chopped flat-leaf parsley

Trim the fennel bulbs, wash them well,cut them in half lengthwise, and then slice them about 1/4 inch thick. Peel the onions and slice them the same way.

Heat 3 tbsp. olive oil in a large non-stick pan and cook the fennel and onions in it slowly, stirring often, adding a little salt and pepper to taste, until they are completely soft and golden brown. Stir in the wine, and continue cooking until it almost all simmers away, then set pan aside. Clean the leeks thoroughly, cut them in half lengthwise, then slice them quite thinly crosswise. Heat the remaining olive oil and the butter in a non-stick pan and saute the leeks in it, stirring them often, until they are soft and beginning to color. Add a little sprinkle of salt-but not too much.

Heat 6 cups broth in a medium-sized saucepan and whisk in the polenta. Lower the heat and simmer the polenta, stirring with a wooden spoon constantly, until thick and smooth, about 30 minutes. Stir in the sauteed leeks; break the gorgonzola into chunks and stir it in. Keep stirring until cheese is all melted into cornmeal. The polenta should be thick and smooth, but not too stiff. If it is holding a shape as you stir it, gradually mix in a bit more of broth.

Meanwhile, warm up the caramelized fennel and onion mixture. This too could be moistened with a bit of broth if needed. Ladle the polenta into warm, shallow bowls or onto warm plates, and spoon some of the fennel and onion mixture around the polenta. Scatter some fresh flat-leaf parsley across the top and serve at once with a good red wine. Serves 6.

Posted by Jeane Bell (jeanski/ in on 14 Jul 1996.
Creamy Polenta with Apricot-Onion Sauce

From Nicole Routhier's Fruit Cookbook
Don't be put off by the anchovies in this-they add a delicious, hard-to-pinpoint complexity to the flavor. This is a great cookbook-lots of ideas with fruit!

Apricot-Onion Sauce:
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onions
1 tbsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. crumbled dried oregano
1/4 tsp. dried red pepper flakes,or to taste
8 anchovy fillets, coarsely chopped
1 bay leaf
2 cups canned peeled tomatoes,including juice
1 1/2 cups white wine, preferably Chardonnay
1/2 cup diced dried apricots (use fresh if available)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar

2 large ears corn,preferably white,husks and silks removed
3 3/4 cups chicken broth, at room temperature
3/4 cup stone-ground yellow or white cornmeal
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan

1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves, for garnish
extra-virgin olive oil, for garnish

To make the sauce,heat the olive oil in large non-stick skillet over medium-heat. Add onions, garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, anchovies, and bay leaf. Saute, stirring frequently, until the onions are tender, 3 minutes. Crush the tomatoes, add them to the skillet, along with the wine, apricots, salt and sugar. Quickly bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season the sauce to taste with sugar and salt if necessary. The sauce is now ready; you can use it immediately or let it sit for up to 2 hours before serving.

To make the polenta, cut the corn kernels from the cobs by running a sharp knife from the tip of the ear straight down to the stem. Avoid tough fibers by not cutting too close to the cob. After removing the kernels, scrape the back of the knife down the cob to extract all the remaining meat and the 'milk'. (You should have about 1 1/2 cups corn kernels.)

Stir the chicken broth, the cornmeal and the corn kernels together in a large pot. Cook over low heat, stirring often with a wooden spoon, until the cornmeal no longer feels grainy when you taste it, 5-6 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the Parmesan cheese.The mixture should be creamy and slightly runny. If it's too thick, add a little hot water. Spoon the polenta into warmed shallow bowls, top with the sauce, and sprinkle with chopped parsley. Drizzle olive oil over the top and serve immediately. Serves 4 as entree or 6 side dishes. The polenta can also be grilled as a variation.

Posted by Jeane Bell (jeanski/ in on 14 Jul 1996.
Warm Breakfast Polenta with Chocolate, Mascarpone, Cinnamon and Almonds

From Dinner at the Authentic Cafe by Roger Hayot I think he is one of the best chefs in the world and I envy those who have been able to get to his restaurant in the ethnic Fairfax area of Los Angeles!

1 cup water
2 1/4 cups milk
3 tbsp. granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
3/4 cup fine yellow cornmeal
2 tbsp. mascarpone cheese,stirred to loosen
2 oz. good-quality bittersweet chocolate, finely grated
3/4 oz. shelled almonds, lightly toasted (bake them in 350F until pale gold, about 8 minutes)
1/4 tsp.cinnamon
4 3-inch cinnamon sticks
4 fresh Mission figs,if in season,ends trimmed and quartered

Bring the water,milk and salt to a boil in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and add the cornmeal in a thin stream, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Cook the cornmeal, pressing out any lumps with the spoon and stirring constantly, until it thickens and all the grains seem cooked and slightly swollen, about 10 minutes. Taste the polenta; it should be soft, not gritty. The polenta should be thick, but not stiff-you should still be able to serve it with a ladle.

Ladle the polenta into soup plates. Use a spoon to make a small 1/2- inch- deep depression in the center of each portion. Drop 11/2 tsp. of the mascarpone into each depression, then sprinkle with chocolate. Combine the almonds and cinnamon in a small bowl and sprinkle the mixture over all the polenta. Place a cinnamon stick in each portion, so that your guests may use it to swirl the mascarpone and chocolate.

If you are using figs, place 4 quarters around each portion of polenta and serve immediately. Makes 4 1-cup servings.

Posted by Jeane Bell (jeanski/ in on 16 Jul 1996.
my polenta was disgusting! (help)


Posted by Lisa Dal Santo (lisa/ on 7 Sep 1996:

I don't know what I did wrong, but the polenta I made turned out nothing like what these caterers at a wedding served. Theirs was almost gelatiny, not yellow/golden, it was more clear/opaque, like plain gelatin would be. I know it was fried, so I got that part right. Could there perhaps be different kinds of polenta? I used yellow coarse-grain stuff (on the bag it said polenta) .. after it set and we tasted it, it tasted grainy and salty (probably that salt the recipe said to add). The stuff I'm trying to make certainly didn't taste salty, in fact it was a littly bit sweet, and didn't taste gritty at all. My husband says that his italian grandmother made polenta for them and had it as a heaped up dome on a wooden board. They would just dig in with spoons. Her's was not yellow, either, but opaque/whitish.

Who can help??

Posted by Lori Rizzo (larizzo/ on 8 Sep 1996:

There was an article in Fine Cooking (magazine) about polenta. I don't have the issue, but it's been within the past year. It was a great article, and talked about making "authentic" polenta. I want to try it too.

Posted by Diane (dku/ on 08 Sep 1996:

polenta is simply a corn meal mush and it could be white or yellow or feasibly even blue depending on the cornmeal you use. i am confused when you say it was clear/opaque..because those words are opposites. it is like me calling myself tall/short. i have never seen clear sort of defies the rules of matter........ confused.
Enrico's Easy Baked Polenta


Posted by Yungbill/ on 20 Mar 1997:

My Italian friend made a fantastic "Baked" polenta and she said it was the recipe on the package of Golden Pheasant Polenta. I haven't been able to find it in my area. Do you know of it or a recipe for BAKED polenta?

Posted by Donald Martinich (dutchm/ on 21 Mar 1997:

This could be two different things. You can bake boiled polenta with other ingredients such as poultry in mushroom sauce with cheese, etc. or use baking as the basic cooking process. For the latter, the Golden Pheasant package has:

Enrico's Easy Polenta

1 cup polenta
3 1/4 cups warm water
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. butter

Preheat oven to 350 F. Place ingredients in buttered 8-inch square pan. Stir with fork until blended. Bake uncovered for 50 minutes. Run fork through it and bake 10 more minutes. Serve with butter and Parmesan cheese, or with your tomato, meat, or vegetable sauce. Serve 6.

Posted by WDHathaway/ on 22 Mar 1997:

Polenta is just cornmeal mush unless you add something interesting. If you cook the stuff according to the package directions (stirring the cornmeal into salted, boiling water until it looks like bubbling lava) and turn it out onto a baking sheet, you can douse it with olive oil, lots of Parmesan cheese and whatever herbs you particularly like, then bake it in the oven at 350o until it gets a little crusty.

Posted by Vera Lewis (vera/Eng.Sun.COM) on 28 Mar 1997:

The best baked Polenta recipe I ever had came off a box of Quaker Corn Meal, I think they still print it on the packege (sorry don't have one handy). They call it baked corn meal mush and it really was terrific. There was also a method given for frying it in bacon (mmmmmmm).
Polenta with Formaggio Fuso

James A. Crutchfield wrote:
>Can anyone provide some good polenta recipes? I'd particularly like to get
>the one that featured a creamy, garlicky polenta served with steak

Try polenta with formaggio fuso:

Cook the polenta just with water salt and some (few) olive oil or butter. When ready put it in the heated oven (less than 120 dergree Celsius) for steaming off. Meanwhile heat a pan (Teflon/silverstone etc.) and put into it grated cheese (originaly Asiago because it is an Trentino recipe from northern Italy). Melt it at a moderate temperature without stirring. When its done it should have a light brown crust at the bottom. Put the polenta on a plate and turn the melted cheese upside down on it. Serve with a green salad.

Try also polenta with green beens fied with onions and a little garlic (from my grandma of Trentro) its called polenta con fasoi rostidi and this is served with grated Parmesan cheese.

Posted by Martin Bemmann to on 27 Mar 1997.
Mushy Polenta


Posted by michaelk/ on 21 Apr 1997:

Does anyone have a recipe for polenta. (*Making it*, not using it.) Mine alway seems to come out too mushy, even after its been chilled. I'm using roughly one part corn meal to four parts liquid. Thanks.

Posted by Al ( on 21 Apr 1997:

You are using too much water... I use 3 & 1/4 parts water to 1 cup polenta, it always turns out right. Also, try adding a little cheese...

Posted by Ludwig Van (ludwig/ on 27 Apr 1997:

The problem is probably your ratios, but your method. The trick to Polenta is to bring the liquid to a rolling boil before you add the meal. The meal must cook all the way and if you bring the heat up with the meal in the liquid it will not completely cook.

Posted by Jonas V Bilenas (jonaspas/ on 10 May 1997:

You may want to try less liquid. I use 1 part polenta to 3 1/4 parts water or stock. Do not use instant polenta and for a thicker polenta do not add milk. After the water comes to a boil, add polenta in a thin stream while stirring with a whisk. After incorporated into the water, switch to a wooden spoon. Cook for about 45 minutes, stirring constantly. This should give you a thicker polenta.
what is polenta?


Posted by rck9396/ on 13 Jul 1997:

What is polenta?

Posted by dreamweaver/ on 13 Jul 1997:

Of Italian origin (at least around home it was always prepared in Italian house holds). Polenta is a corn-meal based porridge.

Posted by eep/ on 23 Jul 1997

Polenta is what my Roumanian grandmother called Mammaliga.

Posted by WardNA/ on 13 Jul 1997:

It should be pointed out that not just any "corn meal" will do for polenta. It should be coasely ground, a little gritty in the teeth, not the finely ground meal Erewhon or Indian Head puts out.

Posted by beans/ on 13 Jul 1997:

According to Julia Child, polenta is just cornmeal mush, served adult style.

Posted by E A Smyth (easmyth/ on 20 Jul 1997:

Maybe it's comfort food for me in a way, too, as it reminds me of a lovely holiday. Eve

Posted by Michael Sierchio (xhqmh/qanv.pbz) on 17 Jul 1997:

Walter Smith wrote:
> Polenta is basically unrefined Italian grits

well, it's cornmeal mush made with coarse meal. Grits are made from hominy, something else entirely...

Posted by hubbardm/ on 20 Jul 1997:

Fancy corn meal mush (corn meal boiled in water)

Scrapple is Pennsylvania Polenta (corn meal mush with pig parts)

Posted by trilliumblackmer (tblackmer/ on 17 Jul 1997:

Walter Smith wrote:
> Polenta is basically Italian Grits. It is corn meal cooked in a stock,

Um, not to be a snob or any thing, but polenta *isn't* corn meal! It's similar, but a much coarser grind, and nothing like grits (to me anyway).

It probably is quite good with broth or wine, but the way we do it in my family (isn't that always the *right* way) was with water.

7 c water to 3 1/4 c polenta

It's important to let the polenta fall in a thin, but steady stream into the boiling water so there are no lumps. To do it the 'real way' you have to then stand there and stir it constantly. At the end you can stir in a little milk or cream and some parmagiano if you are going to eat it soft. I like it topped with sausage and tomato stewed in red wine.

Posted by Bill (brawny/ on 18 Jul 1997:

trilliumblackmer (tblackmer/ wrote:
>Um, not to be a snob or any thing, but polenta *isn't* corn meal! It's
>similar, but a much coarser grind,

Call it what you want, but it still tastes like mush, grits, polenta to me!

I guess it isn't the flavor that of object to, it is the texture that I don't like. Pears have that same texture.

Posted by trilliumblackmer (tblackmer/ on 24 Jul 97:

>I guess it isn't the flavor that of object to, it is the texture that I
>don't like. Pears have that same texture.

Maybe you haven't had it cooked properly? To cook properly it needs constant stirring and to be poured in boiling water very carefully so that you don't get any clumps. It's done when it looks kind of satiny and pulls away from the edge of the pan. I've never noticed that it had that yucky pear texture, but then again, maybe you just don't like polenta :)

>That would be "mealy."

>I thought polenta was a cooked corn meal dish. I guess I'm w-a-a-a-y
>out there....;-)

Ok, ok, it's similar to corn meal, but *not* the same! Different grind and maybe different corn...funny thing is, I eat lots of polenta in the winter time and can't stand grits or corn meal mush at all...go figure.
Classic Polenta

Polenta was originally a porridge made of various coarse grains, mostly wheat. Since the introduction of corn and cornmeal in Italy, cornmeal has largely replaced wheat for making polenta.

A little over 2 quarts cold water
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse-grained salt
1/2 pound coarse or stone-ground yellow cornmeal
1/2 pound regular finely ground yellow cornmeal

Bring the cold water to a boil in a large pot. When water boils, add the salt. Mix the two types of cornmeal together and pour slowly into the water while stirring with a wooden spoon. Cook, stirring continuously for 40 to 50 minutes. If lumps form, mash them against the side of the pot.*

Polenta may be served hot with sauce, or poured into a loaf pan, chilled, sliced, then fried, baked or broiled. Some cooks include grated Parmesan, Romano, or other cheese in polenta.

I like it fried with a smiple sauce of Italian sausage, tomato, garlic, onion, and green peppers with a little basil or oregano.

*From Giuliano Bugialli's Classic Techniques of Italian Cooking

Posted by Bob Y (rdyoung/ to on 13 Jul 1997.
Polenta with Chunky Meat Sauce (Microwave)

This recipe is adapted from Better Homes & Gardens CD Cookbook. I leave out the pimento, the sauce is flexible and can be modified according to taste. A great low fat meal that can be made when you need something quickly.

1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup cold water
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups boiling water
Nonstick spray coating
1 pound lean ground beef (or Italian-style turkey sausage)
2 green onions, sliced
1 17-ounce can cream-style corn
1 small green pepper, cut into thin strips
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
Dash pepper
1 2-ounce jar diced pimento, drained

For polenta, in a 2-quart casserole combine cornmeal, the 1 cup cold water, and salt. Slowly pour boiling water into cornmeal mixture, stirring constantly till the mixture is well blended. Cook, uncovered, on 100% power (high) for 6-8 minutes or till very thick, stirring every minute. Spray a 12x8x2 inch baking dish with nonstick coating. Spread polenta in dish. Cover, cool 45 minutes or chill overnight.

In a 2-quart casserole combine meat and onions. Cook, covered, on high 5-7 minutes or till no pink remains, stirring once. Drain; set mixture aside. In the casserole combine corn, green pepper, Italian seasoning, and pepper. Cook, covered, on high 5-6 minutes or till green pepper is crisp-tender. Stir in meat mixture and pimento.

Cut polenta into 24 squares; arrange on platter. Cook, covered with wax paper, on 70% power (medium-high) 4-5 minutes till heated through. Transfer to serving plates. Cook meat mixture, covered, on high for 1.5-2.5 minutes or till hot. Serve with polenta slices.

Makes 6 servings.

Preparation Time: 50 min.
Cooking Time: 28 min.

Submitted by: Cynthia Krueger (skrueger/
Posted to by Dave (davidg/ on 25 Aug 1996.
Polenta Cake

A marvelous simple cornmeal cake from the Alps in Italy. Perfect for breakfast. If making this cake for dessert, serve with berries and a touch of whipped cream.

1 stick sweet butter, softened
1/2 cup plus 1/4 tsp. sugar
2 large egg yolks
grated zest of 1/2 orange
grated zest of 1/2 lemon
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise OR 1 tsp. vanilla extract
2/3 cup unblanched almonds
1/4 cup potato starch or cornstarch
1/2 cup stone-ground cornmeal
1/2 tsp. baking powder
4 large egg whites
confectioners' sugar for sprinkling

Oven - 325 degrees.
Generously butter 8- to 9-inch kugelhopf or bundt pan. Place butter, 1/2 cup sugar, egg yolks and citrus zests in large bowl. If using vanilla bean, scrape seeds from pod into butter mixture or add extract. Beat until light and creamy.

In food processor, combine nuts, starch, cornmeal, and baking powder. Process until powdery. Sift this mixture onto sheet of wax paper (if bits of nuts remain in sifter, return them to mixture).

Beat egg whites with remaining 1/4 tsp. sugar until they form soft peaks. Gently fold dry ingredients and 1/2 of beaten egg whites into butter mixture, fold in remaining whites just until incorporated. Gently scrape batter into pan.

Bake until cake is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, usually about 40 minutes. Do not overbake.

Cool cake briefly in pan on wire rack. Run the tip of knife around the sides of cake to loosen it from pan; invert onto rack. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar. Serve lukewarm or at room temperature.

Posted by Carl Dillman to on 24 Oct 1997.
Polenta Casserole

1/2 lb Sweet Italian sausage links, casings removed
1/2 lb Hot Italian sausage links, casings removed
1 tbs olive oil
1 lg onion, chopped
1 lg celery stalk, chopped
1 med carrot, chopped
28 oz can plum tomatoes in purée (Progresso)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
basil, oregano and rosemary, to taste
2 cups polenta (corn grits)
6 cups water or broth (chicken or vegetable)
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 lb Fontina or mozzarella cheese, shredded (2 cups)

Prepare polenta: In 4-quart saucepan, bring 6 cups broth (or water) to boil, add 1 tsp salt. Using a wire whisk, slowly sprinkle in polenta, whisking to prevent clumps. Lower heat to medium, and cook until mixture is very thick, about 30 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat, and stir in Parmesan Cheese. (I use a double boiler, so I do not have to stir as often) Turn out polenta onto waxed paper to cool.

Sauce: In a 5-quart dutch oven over medium-high heat, cook sausage until browned, stirring with a spoon to break up. Drain in collander.

In same dutch oven using hot olive oil, cook onion, celery, and carrot until browned. Stir in sausage and tomatoes with the purée; heat to boiling. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 10 minutes. Remove cover and simmer 10 minutes longer.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease 13" by 9" glass baking dish. Divide polenta in half. Spread one-half of polenta in baking dish; top with half the tomato/sausage sauce, then half the shredded cheese. Repeat with remaining polenta and sauce.

Bake uncovered for 15 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining cheese; bake about 20 minutes longer or until mixture is hot and bubbling. Let stand 15 minutes for easier serving.

Notes: I like to use part Fontina and part Mozzarella cheese.

Posted by Wilkinson (maverick/hal-pc) to on 23 Jan 1998.
Polenta Topper


camphead design wrote:
> I am still experimenting trying to find a good sauce for polenta.

Posted by Bob Y (rdyoung/ on 05 Feb 1998:

Try this. Fry one Italian sausage per serving and slice into coins. Slice up some onion and green pepper (or whatever color/combo of peppers you prefer). Saute the peppers and onions in some olive oil until tender. Add some chopped or crushed tomatoes and the sausage to heat through. Salt and black pepper to taste. Serve over fried or grilled polenta slices. This is also good on a roll as a sandwich.

Posted by Becky/camphead design (camphead/ on 7 Feb 1998:

This may not qualify as a sauce, but I had a "Polenta Salad" at a restaurant recently which was grilled polenta topped with not-quite- sauteed-just-warmed spinach, garlic, shallots and a balsamic vinegar dressing. Can't remember if there was anything else in it -- maybe walnuts?

Posted by lizr/ on 12 Feb 1998:

Mix it with green chiles and very sharp cheddar cheese then bake for about 30 minutes until a crust forms on top. Yes, that's cheese grits but it's pretty much the same difference

Posted by Jan (jrg14/ on 12 Feb 1998:

I like a realy spicy tomato sauce, lots of onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes.
Re: Polenta?

If you go to and click on their food homepage and then enter "polenta" in the dictionary window, it will give you the definition and links to recipes. Though currently made with cornmeal, it was originally made with a buckwheat meal (prior to intoduction of corn to Europe).

Posted by Bob Y (rdyoung/ to on 08 Mar 1998.
Polenta, Angelo e Demone

Has several polenta recipes: Polenta, Angelo e Demone
Polenta (Cornmeal)

This is the basic recipe (since I have multi food intolerance) I do leave out the cheese and use margarine instead of the butter. It is very easy to make and you can put in almost anything you like, the variations are endless........

2 cups coarsely ground cornmeal
8 cups water
1 tbs. salt (I omit the salt since the cheese is at time salty)
1 handful of Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese (this cheese give a better taste than the others)
1 Tbs. butter/margarine

In a large heavy saucepan bring water to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and add salt. (Important not to add salt before the water boils).
Very slowly add the cornmeal at this point I lower the heat temperature (I usually put it into a sieve so I can control the amount that goes in, this way you can prevent the lumps from forming) stir constantly with a long large wooden spoon. After all the cornmeal has been added cook for about 40-50 mins.
As it is cooking the Polenta will thicken and it will bubble. Keep stirring and crush or discard any lumps that may form.
When cooked add the butter and cheese. (At this point you can add almost anything you like, you may omit the cheese. My family likes to have tomato sauce or pesto sauce added at this point).
Once Polenta starts coming off the sides of the pan then it is cooked.
To serve soft place Polenta in a casserole dish, top with your favorite sauce e.g.: tomato, meat, cheese or pasta sauce.
To serve with a firmer consistency place Polenta in a flat casserole dish and let it set for a few minutes (it will be easier to cut), cut into slices or squares. The slices can be grilled, fried or baked and topped with your choice of sauce and cheese.

When I make my Polenta, I usually make enough to have half recipe soft and half a firmer consistency, this way you a multi choice of recipes you can have on hand e.g.:

* grill a not too thin slice and you can use it as bread during a meal.
* cut a thin slice and top it off with tomato sauce and cheese and you have a pizza slice.

Hope you all will like this very delicious dish as much as my family and I do. Posted by Clelia to the Celiac list on 27 Mar 1998.
Polenta with Bell Pepper Sauce

This, now this was really good. Except the person who didn't like the polenta before still didn't like the polenta [but he said the sauce was good -- it was!]. No matter, I thought it was fabulous, but now I have all this polenta I don't know what to do with (make cornbread, I guess).

3 red bell peppers (I used 2 red, 1 yellow)
1 onion, chopped
4-6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 large tomatoes, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon honey
freshly ground black pepper
3 handfuls brown mushrooms
4 dried mushrooms, soaked in warm water
3 1/2 cups water or veg stock
2/3 cup grated cheese

Char the peppers, let cool. Peel; remove stems and seeds. Chop.

Saute onion in a little water or oil; Add tomatoes, peppers, garlic and thyme, basil and black pepper to taste. Stir in honey. Lower heat and cook 15 to 20 minutes, or until mixture reduces and thickens. Pile into a food processor and puree. Keep warm.

Finely chop the mushrooms. Saute in a little oil. Season with black pepper.

Bring liquid to a boil. Slowly add polenta, whisking constantly. Lower heat and continue to cook, stirring constantly, about 20 minutes. Drizzle in additional water if mixture gets too thick. Stir in cheese and season liberally with black pepper.

To serve, spoon polenta into bowl. Cover completely with bell pepper sauce; pile some mushrooms on top.

I didn't serve anything alongside this (ran off to Whole Foods as soon as it was done) but it needed an accompaniment. I have no suggestions, though.

Posted by Stephanie da Silva to on 29 May 1998.