Italian maize meal, either eaten as a thick porridge or cooked and then either grilled (as pictured), fried or baked. A versatile alternative to pasta and very popular in northern Italy.
Traditional polenta needs to be cooked, stirring constantly for up to 40 minutes, this recipe uses easy cook polenta which is ready in 5 minutes.
Be aware that Polenta can bubble volcanically. Be careful that you do not splash hot polenta on your hands and use a long handled spoon.
250 g easy cook polenta
1 litre water
50 g butter
50 g grated parmesan cheese
Teaspoon of salt
100 g fontina or blue cheese
2 tablespoons fresh herbs (sage, thyme or rosemary)
25 g dried mushrooms, soaked in 25 ml of warm water for 30 minutes. If you use dried mushrooms be careful to pick out any pieces of grit and add the strained soaking liquid (strain through folded kitchen towel)
Bring the water to a boil in a large pan, add the salt
Place the polenta drains in a jug and pour slowly into the boiling water, use a long handled wooden to stir constantly
Stir until all the polenta has been incorporated and there are no lumps
Add butter, parmesan and any other ingredients
Simmer stirring constantly until you have cooked the polenta for up to 5 minutes (the polenta is usually ready after 1 minute but will still be soft, it firms up with more cooking)
Either serve (treat as mash) or pour into an oiled baking dish and leave to cool
Cut cooled polenta into slices or wedges, either brush with olive oil and grill, shallow fry or bake with a sauce (it needs no further cooking, you are just heating it up)
Goes with most sausages, try with Italian sausage and tomato sauce