ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Polenta - A Presidential Prerogative

Updated on August 16, 2010

Of the 44 men who have been President of the United States, nine (or almost a quarter) have listed some kind of corn as one of their favorite foods. For Grant it was hominy grits, for Coolidge it was cornmeal biscuits, and for both Adamses it was just plain corn. (We don't count Grover Cleveland, who loved corned beef.) Anything so Presidentially favored must be quintessentially American.

And so it is, except when it's quintessentially Italian. To turn good old American cornmeal into fashionable Italian polenta, simply bring 4 cups of water with a teaspoon of salt to a boil. Turn down the heat to a simmer, and add a cup of cornmeal, stirring, in a steady stream.

For soft polenta: Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring often, for 15 minutes, until creamy and thick. If mixture becomes too thick, you can add a little more water. Remove from the stove and add your seasonings, serve immediately.

For thick polenta: Follow the directions above, but continue cooking until the polenta becomes so a thick that a spoon almost stands up in it.  Season the mixture and place in a lightly greased baking dish. Allow to cool or refrigerate until ready to use. You can then cut the polenta into pieces and use it for grilling, baking, frying or broiling.

But that's just the beginning.

Polenta has a neutral, unobtrusive corn taste that makes it a perfect vehicle for other flavors.

  • Make basic polenta, pour it into a pan and chill, cut into squares and pan fry or broil it for a crispy crust.
  • Use polenta as a crust for a savory pie.
  • Roast a bulb of garlic and add it to the polenta just as it begins to firm up. Then, just before it's finished, stir in some baby spinach.
  • Construct a 3-layer casserole with a layer of polenta on the bottom, some kind of sauteed vegetables and/or meats in the middle, and another polenta layer on top. Then bake it 30-40 minutes in a 350 degree F oven.
  • Saut√© some scallions, shallots, or onion (and maybe some sage or basil) in the pot before you add the water and cornmeal.
  • For an appetizer, top polenta squares with sun-dried (or fresh) tomatoes or chopped olives.
  • Just when the polenta is done, stir in some cheese - try Parmesan or Gorgonzola.

And who knows, if you eat enough polenta, you might grow up to be President.

Sardinian Polenta (Polenta alla Sarda)

Polenta alla Sarda is ideally made with pecorino sardo, Sardinian sheep's milk cheese. However, if you cannot find pecorino sardo, you can substitute Romano.

3 cups soft polenta
3 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup onion, minced
6 oz. pancetta, thinly sliced
6 oz. salami or crumbled sausage
8 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
1 Tbsp parsley, finely chopped
1 Tbsp basil or sage, finely chopped
6 oz. pecorino sardo, grated

1. In a large, deep skillet heat the butter and olive oil. Sautee the onions for 2-3 minutes then add the pancetta and salami. Continue cooking for another couple of minutes then add the tomatoes and fresh herbs. Simmer for 15-20 minutes.

2. In the meatime, prepare a soft polenta in a large pot. As soon as the polenta is cooked, stir in the tomato mixture and grated cheese. Serve immediately.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Hal Licino profile imageAUTHOR

      Hal Licino 

      8 years ago from Toronto

      You're absolutely right. You can buy 20 cents worth of cornmeal and make exactly the same amount of polenta (and better and fresher) than the $4 tube in the supermarket. This is taking convenience way too far! :)

    • Sally's Trove profile image

      Sherri 

      8 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      It's truly amazing how expensive polenta is in the supermarket when it's so easy and cheap to make. Thanks for the reminder to make some, which I haven't done in a while. The Sardinian recipe sounds wonderful.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)