Once considered a poor man’s meal, Polenta has evolved a lot and is now known as a favorite dish in Northern Italy. As a dish of boiled cornmeal, polenta was a staple food long before corn was brought from the Americas to Europe.
The name polenta was originally from the Latin word for “pearled grain” or like barley. Its origin dated back to the Roman Empire.
At present, polenta can be mixed with other protein and mineral-rich food like cheese, tomato sauce, and yes, sausages!
“While there are certain heirloom varieties of corn, like otto file and biancoperla, which some prefer over the more generic stuff, for all practical purposes, any medium-ground or coarsely ground cornmeal will do,” said Daniel Gritzer, Senior Culinary Director of the Serious Eats culinary team.
“Even grits, which are often ground more coarsely than polenta and are sometimes made with a different variety of corn (dent instead of flint), are a perfectly acceptable substitute in just about any situation requiring polenta,” Gritzer added.
Alternative Methods In Cooking Polenta
In his recipe, Gritzer shows some other methods of making polenta, including an oven method, a double-boiler method, and a microwave method.
1. Oven Method
The polenta was combined with water in a baking dish before cooking it for over-made. In some other situations, the polenta was covered. Also, it can be uncovered until it is cooked.
2. Double-Boiler Method
The double boiler can help lessen the urgency for stirring since the steam heat from underneath won’t bring the polenta to scorch on the bottom of the saucepan.
However, it took some time to cook because the heat is a bit gentler in using this method.
3. Microwave Method
The polenta is being cooked with a combination of water in a large Pyrex measuring cup, then cooked and covered, for a total of 12 minutes. This method requires you to stir between blasts in the microwave to ensure the smooth and lump-free polenta.
What Does Polenta Taste Like?
As this food is made from corn, polenta tastes like corn but naturally has a mild flavor.
Its traditional flavor means it usually soaks up other flavors, such as milk, butter, cheese, broth, or milk.
The difference between Polenta and Grits
Polenta is made from flint corn. On the other hand, grits are made from dent corn.
A flint corn has minimal starch compared to dent corn, which is why cooked polenta is less creamy than cooked grits.
According to Food Network, this is why polenta doesn’t need to be stirred as frequently as grits when cooking it.
Is Polenta Gluten-Free?
Cornmeal is the primary ingredient of Polenta. This simply means that polenta is gluten-free. However, if you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivities, be sure to check the package labels so you can see if the polenta is processed and packaged in gluten-free storage.
What is Polenta Served With?
Polenta is best served during breakfast. You can serve it as porridge with toppings like fresh or dried fruits, milk, nut, honey, maple syrup, egg yolk, butter, and sausages.
Easy Polenta Recipes
Polenta is a type of food that is easy to prepare. You can either bake it, fry it, herb it, or cheese it, and serve it with just about anything you like to go with its flavor.
1. Baked Polenta
In Baked Polenta, you simply whisked into the water the coarse-ground cornmeal and cook it for a short time. Baked it in the oven for a hands-off style. For an extra creamy flavor, you can add butter and cheese.
2. Instant Pot Polenta
To prepare an Instant Polenta, just mix polenta, water, and salt in an Instant Pot, after it comes up to pressure. You can cook it in just 10 minutes. Before serving it, add Parmesan and butter, or sausage.
3. Fried Polenta
Fried Polenta is considered as crowd’s favorite side or snack. You can simply slice a tube of prepared polenta into half-inch rounds, put them in flour and fry in small batches until it turns golden brown. Afterwards, you can sprinkle with salt and grated Parmesan. Then serve it with gusto.
Nutritional benefits from consuming polenta
1. Polenta is a good source of fiber and protein
Polenta is rich with protein and fiber, which help you feel full. If your digestive system is not to functioning properly, a meal of polenta is a great recommendation. Plus, the fiber in polenta help feed healthy git bacteria to prevent constipation.
2. Polenta Contains vitamin A
Polenta contains some vitamin A, which is vital for the proper functioning of the lungs, heart, and kidneys.
3. Polenta has low fat contents
According to Medical News Today, polenta is naturally low in fat. It can be consumed as part of a heart-healthy diet plan.
4. Polenta contains essential minerals
Polenta is rich with magnesium, zinc, and iron, which are important minerals for our body.
5. Polenta is a low-calorie food
Polenta contains low calorie. It is the same with other whole grains that are cooked in water. It gives around 70 calories per 100 grams (g) cooked serving.
6. Polenta is a good source of carotenoids
Polenta is a rich source of carotenoids, which is essential to lessen the risk of heart diseases, some cancers, and other types of eye diseases.
7. Polenta is gluten-free
Polenta is naturally safe to be consumed by people with gluten sensitivity and celiac disease.
8. Polenta is rich in complex carbohydrates
Polenta has complex carbohydrates, which give long-lasting energy. Also, it provides nutrients that help maintain steady blood sugar levels.
We recommend pairing Frescobaldi Montesodi wine with this Polenta with Sausage recipe.
2 cups polenta
1 cup milk
1/3 cup butter
6 sausages (halved)
1 garlic clove – crushed
1 glass of merlot wine
1 bouillon cube
1 sprig of rosemary
1 sprig of sage
1 teaspoon tomato paste
- Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add a touch of salt. Slowly whisk in the polenta, stirring continuously to avoid lumps.
- After about 15 minutes, add the milk and half of the butter and cook for another 15 minutes to make the polenta creamy.
- Over a low flame, saute the olive oil, remaining butter, garlic, rosemary and sage.
- Add the sausages. Turn up the flame, and douse the mixture with red wine. Add the tomato paste and cook until the sauce is thickened.
- Pour the sauce over the polenta and serve warm.