Polenta is a yellow maize or cornmeal popular in northern Italy. Regarded there as a staple food, it can be used in many ways after it has been prepared as a rather thick porridge. In Australia, polenta is prepared from a special strain of corn grown in Queensland known as Yellow Dent.
Plain boiled polenta can be grilled, baked, or, as in this recipe, fried. Served with a homemade tomato sauce and sprinkled with parmesan cheese, it makes a delicious side dish. Serves 6-8 persons.
2 litres water 2 teaspoons salt 3½ cups cornmeal (polenta) 90g butter 3 tablespoons olive oil fresh, herbed tomato puree to serve parmesan cheese to serve
Bring to the boil the water and salt in a 6-litre/quart saucepan over full heat. Gradually sprinkle the cornmeal over the water, stirring constantly with a wire whisk. Make sure that there are no lumps of cornmeal. Reduce the heat to low. Continue to stir the polenta mixture until it is very thick (approximately 10 minutes).
Leave the polenta over low heat for about another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. It will be ready to remove from the heat when a wooden spoon will stand upright in the centre of the mixture and not drop to the side of the pan.
Spoon the mixture into an oiled 28 cm x 18 cm dish. Smooth out the mixture and leave to cool at room temperature for at least 4 hours.
Carefully turn out the slab of polenta from the tin and cut it in half lengthways. Cut each half into seven slices crossways, each one 4 cm wide.
Heat the butter and oil together in a heavy frying pan. When hot, add about 6 slabs of polenta to the frying pan and reduce the heat to low. Fry gently until the polenta is dark golden brown on each side.
Serve the polenta on a serving dish topped with fresh tomato sauce and gratings of Parmesan cheese.