With the coming of cooler weather I’m happy to break out my fall favorites. I had a craving for chicken cacciatore and planned on making pasta to serve along side. As I was searching through the cupboard for the perfect shape, I suddenly remembered about the polenta that I had carried home from Italy and had tucked away in the freezer.
On one very memorable day in May I was lucky to visit one of the few remaining mills still in operation in the Garfagnana area outside of Lucca. There along with my Panini Girl tour group, we met the miller and were lucky to see exactly how the old mill works, grinding corn. It was fascinating to witness and the miller was a charming man. I jumped at the chance to purchase some of his stone ground polenta, regardless of the added weight to my already heavy suitcase.
Since I discovered the oven method for cooking polenta I haven’t gone back to the stand over the pot and stir technique. Last night after the prescribed amount of time, I opened the oven and could tell that my polenta wasn’t near done-there was too much liquid that hadn’t yet been absorbed. I tried to be patient and about 15 minutes later, I pulled it out and hoped for the best. Well, were we in for a surprise. This was absolutely the best polenta that we’ve ever eaten-creamy, full of flavor and the perfect accompaniment to the braised chicken. I had to stop myself from ladling another helping into my bowl, but I know there are leftovers in my future!
Wet Polenta with Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 cup medium coarse ground cornmeal (preferably organic stone ground)
1 quart water
1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Preheat oven to 350. Grease a nonstick 3 quart skillet with olive oil. Pour cornmeal, with water, butter or olive oil and salt in a skillet. and stir until well blended. Bake uncovered for 40 minutes and season to taste. Bake another 5-10 minutes. Let polenta stand for 5 minutes. Cover with parmigiano reggiano and serve. Serves 4.
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