Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Ingredient of the Day: Polenta

On a recent Saturday night, I decided to throw a last minute party. Because I was short on time, I went to a nearby store that I was unfamiliar with. As I searched in my local grocery store for polenta, the perfect companion to the other items on my last minute party menu, I realized I’d have to ask for help and found an employee to point me in the right direction. Not knowing what polenta was, he asked another employee. Stumped again, they both asked the store manager. Even the store manager was dumbfounded. I thought long and hard about how I could explain what polenta was, but realized that it is a pretty difficult food to describe. We must’ve looked so funny, the four of us, standing in the middle of the store, talking about this mystery food.

Polenta is a very Italian dish, and I have adopted it as one of my favorites. Made from boiled cornmeal and popular in many European dishes, polenta is usually served in a porridge-like state. Polenta can be used as a base for sauces and toppings, or served grilled or baked as its own dish. From scratch, it takes about an hour to prepare. Recently though, “quick” or “instant” polenta has become a common staple on grocery store shelves. Any way you make it, you’ll enjoy.

Happy Cooking! Mary