Polenta, 500g

£2.05

Product Information

Polenta, 500g

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Polenta is made with ground yellow or white cornmeal (ground maize) originally made with Chestnut meal in ancient times. It can be ground coarsely or finely depending on the region and the texture desired. As it is known today, polenta derives from earlier forms of grain mush (known as puls or pulmentum in Latin or more commonly as gruel or porridge) commonly eaten in Roman times and after. Early forms of polenta were made with such starches as the grain farro and chestnuts flour, both of which are still used in small quantity today. When boiled, polenta has a smooth, creamy texture due to thegelatinization of starch in the grain, though it may not be completely homogeneous if a coarse grind or a particularly hard grain such as flint corn is used.

 

Polenta was originally and still is classified as a peasant food.  Sometimes topped with sauces, in the 1940s and 1950s polenta was often eaten with just a little salted anchovy or herring. The overreliance on maize as a staple food caused outbreaks of pellagra throughout much of Europe until the 20th century and in the American South during the early 1900s. Maize lacks readily accessible niacin unless cooked with alkali, which nixtamalizes it.

 

Since the late 20th century, polenta became a premium product. Polenta dishes are on the menu in many high-end restaurants, and prepared polenta can be found in supermarkets at high prices. Many current polenta recipes have given new life to an essentially bland and simple food, enriching it with meat and mushrooms sauces, and adding vegetables, beans or various cheeses into the basic mixture.

 

Fresh Foods Cornwall Menu Suggestions...

 

Polenta and cheese are a wonderful combination, and if you work in wild mushrooms, the resulting polenta casserole becomes downright heavenly. I wouldn't do this with champignons, because they aren't flavorful enough. Rather a mixture of mushrooms, for example chanterelles, cremini, and portabella mushrooms. These will be nice as antipasti (perhaps sliced) or as a slightly different first course.

Cook Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

  • 300g (2 cups) not too finely ground whole cornmeal
  • 1ltr milk
  • 212g Fontina cheese, shredded
  • 2 yolks, lightly beaten
  • 450g mixed mushrooms
  • 1tsp parsley
  • 500ml bechamel sauce (ready-made white sauce will be fine)
  • 3tsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
  • A walnut-sized chunk of unsalted butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • 4 single-portion (about 4-inch, or 10 cm diameter) round molds

 

How to Cook:

 

Begin by heating the milk with a scant tablespoon of kosher salt. When it boils stir in the cornmeal, stirring vigorously to avoid the formation of lumps, and proceed to cook the polents. Before removing it from the fire stir in half of the cheese and the butter, mixing well.

After removing the polenta from the fire stir in the egg yolks, and then turn the polenta out into a slightly buttered pan large enough for it to make a layer about a half-inch (1.25 cm) thick. Let it cool.

Heat the olive oil with the garlic, and when the garlic begins to brown remove and discard it. Add the mushrooms, season to taste with salt and pepper, and cook over a medium flame, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes, or until the liquid given off by the mushrooms has been reabsorbed. Upon removing the mushrooms from the fire, dust them with the parsley.

While the mushrooms are cooking, preheat your oven to 400 F (200 C).

Butter your molds. Cut 8 rounds of polenta. Put one on the bottom of each of the molds. Cover the disks with about half the mushrooms, half the cheese, and half the béchamel sauce. Lay down a second round of polenta in each mold and cover them with the remaining ingredients, finishing with the fontina.

Bake until the surfaces are pleasantly golden and serve at once.

 

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Product Code: POLT17

 

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