Polenta is the name given to corn meal, which is traditionally eaten in the north of Italy. It is served as a porridge or as a cake, toasted in a skillet until crispy. Polenta can be used in both sweet and savory dishes.
Most of the polenta found on the market is precooked and only needs a few minutes of cooking time. However, it is possible to find traditional polenta, which needs about 45 minutes to cook.
Measure out the amount of instant polenta required and cook in three parts water to one part polenta. These proportions can vary. Check the package for instructions. Tip: Sprinkle a thin layer of polenta over a tart crust (case) to prevent juicy fruits (plums, apricots, blueberries) from making it soggy.
Polenta is boiled in lightly salted water, broth, or milk. Sprinkle it into the boiling liquid while mixing for 3 to 5 minutes. Be careful because it may splash. When cooked, add your choice of cheese, butter, cream, or even olives or tomato confit. Polenta can be served immediately or spread out over an oiled baking sheet. Once cold, cut with a knife or cookie cutter, then lightly fry in a pan with a little olive oil or butter.
Polenta can be used instead of wheat semolina to make a semolina cake, or replace one-third of the wheat flour for cakes. Made from corn (maize) meal, polenta can be use to make pancakes, polenta fries, gratin dishes, gnocchi, bread rolls, creams flavored with herbs or vanilla, or porridges, such as mamaliga, a traditional Romanian dish used to accompany meat, eggs, and fish.
An unopened package of polenta can be kept for months or years if stored in a cool and dry place. Transfer the contents of an open package to an airtight container to protect the polenta from moisture. It can be stored this way for several months.