Let’s talk about polenta. I’m not talking about that crap it a tube that they call polenta or the instant kind that you can buy and make quickly. I’m talking about real, homemade polenta. Polenta and risotto are both about the technique. Made right they are amazing but you can’t cut corners. I know you probably don’t want to hear that, but you just have to put in the time (and the stirring!) for both. There are two important factors that contribute to good, smooth polenta: add it to the water very slowly and stir contstantly. It makes a huge difference in the flavor and texture. Trust me, it’s worth it!
I didn’t grow up in a cooking house (sorry, mom!) and when I was learning how to cook I focused on learning techniques. One of the best books that I bought was Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. From her book, I learned how to make risotto, pasta, polenta, and various sauces. Each of these techniques later became the foundation for my own recipes. Homemade polenta is warm, comforting and the perfect vessel for sauces or roasts. After visiting the market this week, I decided to make an easy veggie sauce and some cheesy polenta. It was delicious and luckily I had leftovers. The next day, I fried up the polenta in a little olive oil, warmed up the veggies and topped it all with a fried egg. Yum!
4 cups of water
1.5 cups of medium-fine ground cornmeal
pinch of salt
2 tbsp butter
1/3 cup fresh grated parmesan
1. Bring the water to a boil and add the salt. Slowly, slowly, slowly whisk in the cornmeal. I can’t stress this enough. If you don’t do this, it will be lumpy!
2. Reduce heat to simmer and stir constantly for 20-30 minutes. It is ready when it starts to hold together and pull away from the sides.
3. Add butter and parmesan
Caramelized Onions, Red Peppers and Mushrooms
1 red pepper, sliced
1 medium onion, sliced
12 white button mushrooms, sliced
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1. Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and reduce heat to low. Cook 20-30 minutes until onion is soft and browned.
2. Add red pepper and cook until soft, about 5-10 minutes.
3. Add mushrooms, salt and pepper. Turn heat up to medium and cook until mushrooms are soft and have released their liquid.
4. Add lemon juice and serve.