You can find it as a side dish at fine Italian or vegetarian restaurants, wholefoods, Trader Joe's and "Westsider" dinner parties. Everyone loves to pronounce the word "POH-LEN-TAH". All of a sudden Polenta has become the word of the day. "It's all about is polenta polenta polenta!".
What i find to be really sad and ridiculous is that no one seems to know what Polenta is after all, and worse yet, that there are people willing to pay $3 to $4 per tube of this "rare and exquisite delicacy".
But what is Polenta really? Most are familiar with Polenta in this form. I like to call it RTE (ready-to-eat)
But really, where i come from, polenta consists mainly of a "glue" like mixture of cornmeal or yucca flour and water. No basil-garlic or chedar flavor! Oh and until i moved to the US it has always been organic.
Historically, Polenta dates back to the Roman empire. Chestnuts were used instead of corn in its confection (remember corn was introduced to Europe and Africa only after the discovery of the Americas)
Today Polenta feeds millions of people in sub-saharan Africa and it constitutes their major source of caloric intake (no portobello mushroom or tomato sauce thou, and of course it only comes in "Original" flavor).
There is no reason really for the $3-$4 charge. If the 3rd world is fed Polenta by the 1st word it not because of its nutritious qualities, but because it is cheap.
So next time you decide to replace your past by polenta, instead of paying premium price for a little tube, you should just make your own.
Here it is BASIC POLENTA ( by Giada de Laurentiis)
- 6 cups water
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 3/4 cups yellow cornmeal
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a heavy large saucepan. Add 2 teaspoons of salt. Gradually whisk in the cornmeal. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the mixture thickens and the cornmeal is tender, stirring often, about 15 minutes. Turn off the heat. Add the butter, and stir until melted.
You also replace the Cornmeal by Yucca or Chestnut flour (this is actually Polenta's original ingredient. Add garlic and herbs and pack it in little cling wrap tubes and you too can sell it to your neighbors for 4 bucks a pop..... make it 6..... after all its home made.