Polenta is a hot plate that comes from maize flour (cooked in salted water), prepared in copper pots.
Polenta belongs to Northern Italy, in particular Valtellina area, where properly exists a rich and rooted tradition of the typical recipe. Polenta is nowadays considered ideal to be served with a lot of foods and many dressings.
THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING SERVED IN COPPER POTS!
Polenta grew up in large amount, being affordable to most of farmers who cultivated it: in fact after having spent huge ammounts of time being considered a meal only for poor people, polenta has acquired a privileged place in the menues both in Italy and worldwide, due to its taste and plainness being nothing more than a mixture of water and cereal flour cooked in copper pots. The luckiest have a copper pot in their own kitchens or their great grandmothers’or grandmothers’ ones!
POLENTA’S ORIGINS AND VARIANTS
In Switzerland, Austria and Croatia polenta is called palenta or pura; in Slovenia and Serbia instead is named palenta; in Romania, there’s mamaliga while in Bulgaria and Corsica polenta takes the name of pulenta; in the end, in Argentina, Brazil and Mexico is called angu.
Polenta comes from the antiquity when Christopher Columbus, coming back from America, brought with him to Europe a ‘till that time unseen plant: the so called granoturco or maize. Dealing with Columbus’ explanation, natives were used to prepare something like a mix of flour, maize and water, then cooked with sauces, legumes, meats and cheeses.
Polenta, beyond being produced by maize flour, can also be prepared with a huge variety of cereals (even with chestnuts) nowadays creating many receipts polenta based:
- fried polenta;
- polenta with meat;
- polenta concia;
- polenta taragna.
HOW TO PREPARE POLENTA: INGREDIENTS
- extra-virgin olive oil (1 spoon);
- coarse salt (1 full spoon);
- cornmeal (1/2 kilo).
Put a pot on a high flame with salted water and bring it to the boil; then add a full spoon of coarse salt, 1 spoon of extra-virgin olive oil and the cornmeal: little by little, in order to impede the formation of troublesome lumps called fraticelli.
Mix up the whole with a wooden ladle, always in the same direction in order to cream everything in the right way. Add a ladle of hot water in order to soften the mix. After more or less forty minutes, keep continuing the coking for any other twenty minutes.
Apart from the above mentioned copper pot, the so called mescola is the traditional ladle implied to stir polenta whose best way to cut it is by using a cotton thread stretching and sink it in the polenta.