Broiled polenta

I have to admit it: I’m not a polenta fan.  Indeed, for a great part of my life I had a huge love-hate relationship with polenta.  I associate polenta with my grandfather Tito, who may have very well eaten it every day of his life until the day he died.  I spent a lot of time at his home as a little kid and ate a lot of polenta.  I remember it being hard and dry and completely tasteless, only made edible by adding copious quantities of queso mantecoso (then again, anything with queso mantecoso is going to taste great).  After my grandfather died I don’t think I ever ate it again –  until something by the same name became popular in posh restaurants in the 90’s.  Those versions of polenta were creamy and tasty and for years I’ve been thinking of trying to imitate them.  Part of the reason why I haven’t is that, all in all, polenta is cheap food and very caloric (in Argentina,  to have “polenta” means to be strong) but not particularly nutritious.  In any case, a couple of days ago I was looking for a recipe to make with Italian sausage and came across this one.  It asked for store bought pre-made polenta, but they didn’t have any at Grocery Outlet and I didn’t want to trek to the supermarket so I decided to make the polenta myself.  I used Marcella Hazan’s recipe because it didn’t require constant stirring for 40 minutes and the results was a creamy polenta with a nice texture that tasted absolutely horrible.  It was a bit too salty (I’m reducing salt from 1 tsp to 3/4 tsp in the recipe below) but the real problem was the taste of the polenta itself.  Next time I make it I’ll use a recipe that includes milk and other flavoring agents.

  • 4 cups water
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup polenta or corn meal
  • Parmesan cheese

Bring water  and salt to a boil.  Slowly whisk in the polenta.  Whisk constantly for four minutes over medium heat. Bring heat down to very low, cover and cook for 10 minutes.  Uncover and whisk for one full minute. Repeat three more times (until the polenta has cooked for about 45 minutes) and pour into a greased 8×8 glass pan.  Refrigerate for 4 hours or up to 2 days.

Pre-heat broiler.  Unmold polenta and cut it into serving pieces.  Place polenta slices onto lightly oiled baking sheet and broil for 5 minutes. Turn, sprinkle generously with Parmesan cheese and broil for an additional 5 minutes.  Serve.

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