I love polenta. I love it when it looks like mush and I love it when it's sliced and fried. Unfortunately the only time I've tried to make it was slicing off pieces of the pre-made refrigerated stuff. Never came out worth mentioning. I always thought that cooking polenta was like risotto...standing over a hot stove for ages, stirring and stirring and stirring until your arm would feel like it was about to fall off. When I read the directions for this recipe and saw how easy it was, I figured I'd give it a try.
The polenta I used was Golden Pheasant which Chef Cindy from my cooking classes mentioned was the best.
This was amazing...of course pretty much any homemade polenta would taste better than the pre-made sliced stuff I'd tried before. This melded perfectly with the Beef Braised in Red Wine. Next time I find any recipe that needs to be paired with polenta, I'll make this recipe.
The recipe can be found on Epicurious.com and, like the Beef dish, came from the January 2007 issue of Gourmet. It states it's adapted from a Marcella Hazan recipe.
Cooking the polenta covered allows condensation to build up, which eliminates the need for constant stirring. And you can still count on the creamy consistency you've come to expect from this dish.
4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup polenta (not quick-cooking) or yellow cornmeal (5 oz)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Bring water and salt to a boil in a 3-quart heavy saucepan, then add polenta in a thin stream, whisking. Cook over moderate heat, whisking, 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low and cover pan, then cook at a bare simmer, stirring with a long-handled spoon for 1 minute every 10 minutes of cooking, 45 minutes total. Remove from heat and whisk in butter until incorporated.
Serve polenta warm. Makes 4 servings.
Polenta can be made 20 minutes ahead and kept, covered, at room temperature (do not let stand longer, or it will solidify).
Note: Um, I may have added just a touch more butter than called for (grin).
While it may seem a pain to have to stir every ten minutes, I used that time to wash dishes and do other things around the kitchen. With this cooking and the Beef Braised in Red Wine in the oven reheating, I think I felt like an actual cook for a bit!
Again, this would be great with any dish that requires polenta!