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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Polenta: Easier than Easy

A few days--weeks?--ago, Mark Bittman published something on "polenta without fear." No, you don't have to stir your cornmeal in a copper pot for an hour straight, like the Italian grandma of legend (if such really existed). Just stir every now and again. I've read this before. Predictably, commenters chimed in with what's become known as Paula Wolfert's easy oven polenta, even though Paula herself acknowledges that she got the recipe from the polenta package.

You can make polenta in a slow cooker. I copied the recipe from somewhere. Here it is: 1 1/2 cups polenta (aka cornmeal), 7 1/2 cups water, salt. Whisk. Cook on high for 30 min-1 hour. Cook on low for 5 more hours. Stir now and again.

It is worth having a slow cooker for this one recipe. Polenta is comfort food for many, though, sadly, not for me. I am working on it. My favorite thing to do with polenta is to spread it on a plate or cookie sheet. Then, after a bit, cut it into squares and fry it. Top with whatever you're having for dinner.

Do you like polenta? If so, how do you eat it?


Someone said...

I'm not a big corn person so polenta's not my thing either, but I was introduced to the Midwestern concept of fried mush by my ex-husband some years ago. It does for cornmeal what a Jia Chiang Dou Fu recipe does for tofu!

But, I love my crock pot. (Ok, it's a Hamilton Beach slow cooker.) Just put in a batch of chicken makhani for tonight's dinner. :)

Frugal Scholar said...

@Someone--is that fried tofu? Must look up chicken makhani. Thanks for the comment.

Someone said...

Yes, it is a fried tofu, yielding chewy triangles, and it's usually spicy. One of my favorites that I try in most restaurants that have it. So satisfying!


Funny about Money said...

Yipe! Never thought of the slow cooker for polenta. The darn thing is reserved for a mess of Mayan beans tonight. But this will absolutely be the next slow-cook project.

I live for polenta. Treat it like spaghetti: cover with fresh tomatoes and basil and parmesan. Or make it into breakfast by frying it with some sausage (sooo bad for you!). Or just serve it like grits as a side dish, with a little dip dug out of the middle and filled with butter (even worse for you!).

Lucy Marmalade said...

I LOVE polenta! I like it either warm with just some cheese and pepper, or sliced up and layered with a tomato sauce, sausage, and basil concoction. Yummmm.

Chance said...

I looooove polenta, and I particularly love slow cooker recipes! It simply never occured to me that the two could go together. Thanks for the post.

Shelley said...

Interesting ideas. I'm thinking polenta is another word for cornmeal mush? I make cornbread maybe half a dozen times a year, mainly to go with beans cooked in the crockpt. I don't find cornmeal over here in the supermarkets, so I go to the Asian place across town where I used to live maybe once or twice a year and stock up on polenta, beans, soy flour, etc. Polenta comes in fine, medium and course textures, but the course-est is nowhere near like one finds in a box of Jiffy cornbread mix. Consequently my cornbread is more like a kind of cake, -- which goes over very well here -- in spite of the fact that I generally cheat the recipe of some of its oil and sugar. I used to have a sort of tamale recipe with minced beef and beans. Need to find that!

Duchesse said...

I buy those fat rolls and grill it on the BBQ or fry it. I adore polenta, or any version of corn.

For breakfast, fired, with a dab of butter and real maple syrup- divine.

see you there! said...

I'm with Funny about Money, I like polenta any way someone wants to serve it to me. I sure didn't know about cooking it in a crock pot tho. That will be my next adventure.



Tanya said...

I eat it less cooked than most people, kind of porridge-y rather than firm, mix in a little butter and parm, and top it with garlic greens, sometimes mushroom, and a fried egg (w/ some runny yolk to mix in)

Frugal Scholar said...

@All--It seems that this is perhaps my most important public service announcement: you can make polenta in a slow cooker. So I'm not wasting my time when I read cookbooks like novels, right?

Frugal Scholar said...

@Funny--Those beans would be good on polenta! You should get another slow cooker--I'm not kidding. They are cheap.

@Lucy--Ooooh yum. I forgot about that dish where you layered polenta like lasagne. Good. And easy.

@Chance--It is so easy. You will not believe it.

@Shelley--Polenta sounds so much more chic than mush. It is the same! I can get you a recipe for that faux tamale dish. You could probably get it via google.

@Duchesse--Grilling sounds great. Oh--you should make it yourself though....I bet it tastes better. Maybe not.

@seeyouthere--I promise. It is so easy.

@Tanya--That fried egg on top of whatever is always good. On top of pasta. On top of fried rice. I will try it on top of polenta--I am getting hungry as I type.