Polenta With Parmesan & Butter
6 cups water
1 1/2 cups stone-ground cornmeal
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into large chunks, plus more for final serving
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for final serving
Ground black pepper
Bring the water to a rolling boil in a heavy-bottomed 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting, add 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and pour the cornmeal into the water in a very slow stream from a measuring cup, all the while whisking in a circular motion to prevent lumps.
Cover and cook, vigorously stirring the polenta with a wooden spoon for about 10 seconds once every 5 minutes and making sure to scrape clean the bottom and corners of the pot, until the polenta has lost its raw cornmeal taste and becomes soft and smooth, about 30 minutes. Stir in the butter, Parmesan, salt, and pepper to taste. Divide the polenta among individual bowls and top each with a small pat of butter. Sprinkle generously with more grated Parmesan to taste and serve immediately.
Golden Northern Corn bread
(Note: this is our favorite corn bread recipe, but as I said we do soak the cornmeal in the liquid for an hour or two ahead of time. We also have been eating less wheat and substituting a gluten-free flour mix such as Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Biscuit and Baking Mix works very well.)
1 cup Mandan Bride cornmeal
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4 teaspoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon table salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus extra softened butter for greasing the pan
Adjust oven rack to center position and heat to 425 degrees. Grease a 9-by-9-by-2-inch metal pan. Stir cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt in large bowl. Push dry ingredients up side of bowl to make a well. Crack eggs into well and stir lightly with wooden spoon, then add buttermilk and milk. Stir wet and dry ingredients quickly until almost combined. Add melted butter; stir until ingredients are just combined.
Pour batter into greased pan. Bake until top is golden brown and lightly cracked and edges have pulled away from side of pan, about 25 minutes. Transfer pan to wire rack to cool slightly, 5 to 10 minutes. Cut corn bread into squares and serve warm.
2 c. freshly ground coarse corn meal
7 c. water (part of this could be stock or milk too)
1 1/2 t. salt 4 T. butter
1/2 c. cheese (parm, fontina, asiago or any good melter)
A note of caution, polenta is akin to lava in how hot it gets and how it behaves, if yours is sputtering and splattering wrap your hand in a towel when you’re stirring it. Bring the liquid to a boil in a large saucepan, polenta can splatter as it cooks down so use a pan with sides at least twice as high as the level of the liquid. Add the salt, then, whisking briskly, pour in the cornmeal slowly so as to avoid lumps. Lower the heat and cook, stirring regularly, for about 35-45 minutes. The longer you cook it the more firm it will be when done. If you don’t know how long to cook it I would just shoot for 40 minutes. Add the butter and the cheese and stir well. Polenta can be served in many ways, use it as you would rice under an entrée, under a nice piece of fish, last week we had it under some beef stroganoff and it was fantastic. You can also cook it a little further and then pour it onto a greased cookie sheet, let it cool, and then slice it into squares to sauté with scrambled eggs or warm with maple syrup on it.