Friday, February 6, 2009

59. Polenta with Parmesan and Butter

Date Cooked: January 25, 2009
Page: 226
Rating: C

I was a little intimidated about this recipe. I’ve heard all the stories of polenta turning out clumpy because the corn meal was added to quick and I was concerned. Did I need to be?

Polenta is not exactly the pinnacle of complex food. Water, corn meal and some spices make up the basic dish. But it is a heavily technique based recipe. I started by bringing water to a boil in my dutch oven. Once boiling away I added some salt before slowly (very slowly) pouring in the corn meal. Once all the corn meal was added I was surprised. It went well and the result was rather uniform with no discernable lumps. Okay so I relaxed, this wasn’t too tough.

The book recommends a vigorous stir every 5 minutes for about 10 seconds. Repeat for 30 minutes. In the beginning this worked fine but as I was approaching the end of the cooking time the polenta began to firm up fast when suddenly it was sticking to the bottom. I stirred that polenta like I was mixing paint, and while a large blob splashed from the pot onto the floor, most of it quickly smoothed back out. Disaster narrowly avoided.

Once the polenta was finished (or as close to finished as I could figure out) I mixed in a good portion of grated parmesan and some generous pieces of butter. I stirred until the butter incorporated and then served.

Rating: C. I was not happy with this. It tasted too… raw? It didn’t feel smooth like I had hoped it would. I used the recommended stone ground medium cornmeal but I think a fine grind might have made it smoother. I’ll try again in the future since there are several polenta variations but I really hope they get better.

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