Polenta to some parts of Italy is what pasta is to other parts of Italy. In Italy, the stirring of the polenta can go on for one 1/2 hours as there are always dissenting opinions as to how long or how fast, the stirring should be. It is also a great breakfast treat. Put into a rectangular dish and let solidify overnight. Cut into chunks or slices and fry until crisp in butter or oil. Slather on some jelly or jam, powdered sugar or honey when you make the BASIC POLENTA recipe.
#1 BASIC POLENTA RECIPE
1 cup coarse Italian cornmeal
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 cube butter or margarine
3 cups water or 1 cup milk and 2 cups water
To prevent lumps, gradually stir cornmeal into the cold water. Stir thoroughly. Place over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring well and adding melted butter. Cook about 45 to 50 minutes, stirring frequently on low heat so polenta bubbles VERY GENTLY.
#2 SHRIMP POLENTA
2 slices bacon
1 large onion, chopped fine
1/2 pound cooked, diced ham
2-4 ounce cans tomato sauce
2-41/2 ounces canned mushroom pieces
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup cold water
1 cup yellow corn meal
3 cups boiling water
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
Fry bacon, add chopped onion and fry until soft. Then add ham and tomato sauce. Simmer for 20 minutes. Add shrimp, mushrooms and salt and pepper to taste. While sauce simmers, stir cornmeal into cold water; then stir cornmeal into cold water; then stir into boiling salted water. Cook 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in grated cheese. Place half of cornmeal-cheese mixture in buttered casserole. Add half of sauce and remainder of cornmeal, finishing with remainder of sauce. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
NIDI DI POLENTA (Meatless Polenta Nests)
Follow the BASIC POLENTA RECIPE. Use the following ingredients to make the sauce:
1 medium onion, finely chopped and sauteed
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup fresh mushrooms, coarsely chopped
1 small can tomato sauce
1/4 teaspoon each, oregano and thyme or 1/2 teaspoon Italian mixed spices
1 clove garlic, finely minced
After onion is sauteed in oil and butter, add tomato sauce and remaining ingredients. Simmer gently for about 20 minutes. Using a large baking spoon, spoon polenta onto a serving plate. With the back of the spoon, make a slight indentation on the top with grated cheese, preferably the dry kind.