Saturday, September 4, 2010


The Goodness of Polenta

Dinner at gangofpour (, our wine friends, reacquainted me with the goodness of polenta. Our cook used an Italian imported, coarse ground polenta (see picture above.) It was cooked slowly on the stove, cooled, and enriched with homemade creme fraiche, then cut into rounds. Idea was to grill. They were too tender, so eventually melded into rich, grainy goodness with pesto and fresh tomatoes blended in a bowl and smoked over the grill. A whole new taste from the plan, but just delicious -- deep corn flavor melded with the bracing pesto and a wonderful smokey flavor and creamy texture.

Our southern friends consider grits a foundation of good cooking. And they're delicious on vacation breakfasts with lots of butter, salt and pepper.

But polenta is its European cousin and offers a bolder flavor just on its own. It's easy to overlook its virtues and it can just escape our cooking imaginations. Especially when it's 90 plus degrees outside.

A favorite fast breakfast is already cooked polenta, poured in a loaf pan or some such shape and cooled in the fridge. Slice a couple pieces (about 1/2 inch thick) and either pan fry in butter or -- even easier --- blast for 30 seconds in the micro with a heavy hand of good parm or other cheese shavings. Warm, creamy, cheesey, it's comforting, bracing and ready for a good shower of fresh ground pepper to wake you up. A breakfast of champions.

The fall invites polenta to the party. Let's see how else we can dance with it!