This week’s installment refers to the poured variety known fancily as “polenta”. I think when people hear “polenta” they think “elaborate” and “fussy”. But actually, polenta is the friendliest, hardest-to-screw-up, blank canvas thing ever. It’s just dried up corn that you heat up with some water (or milk, white wine, or stock if you are into that) and season the shit out of. That’s it!
I like serving polenta at supper clubs because 1) it is delicious 2) I can top it with anything my heart desires and 3) if I pour it out in front of people, it makes them feel like something extravagant is happening. And everyone needs to feel extravagant sometimes. Just look (right) at how happy all of my guests are about this poured polenta!
Here is a guide to help you on your way to poured polenta grandeur:
2) Cook the polenta according to the package directions. And beware! This stuff splatters as it gets thick and burns the shit out of your arms when you are cooking in your super cute tank tops.
3) Consider replacing some of the water the package directions calls for with broth, stock, white wine, or milk (for a more creamy texture). Really, you can just take out a cup of the water the recipe calls for and replace it with the exact same amount of something else. Consider adding herbs and spices like garlic, rosemary, chili flakes, or black pepper. This isn’t a must, but I swear you really can’t go wrong. Cornmeal is so adaptive and it can really mesh well with almost any flavor you choose!
4) Definitely, DEFINTIELY season your cooking liquid with plenty of salt and pepper. If you don’t season the liquid, it will never taste salty enough.
5) Consider finishing your polenta with some dairy or vegan-dairy product. Like butter. Or cream. Or parmesan cheese. Also, consider finishing your polenta with fresh herbs, even if you already used dried herbs in the cooking process. Trust me on this one. These are the steps that will make your final dish really special.
Stay tuned for the next installment of "Cornmeal: Your many-trick one-trick pony" with Part II: Fried!