Why is polenta yellow
Plent, plentn or just polenta. The porridge made from corn grits is represented in many regional cooking traditions and is an integral part of northern Italian and Provencal cuisine. Polenta also has a long tradition in Spain, parts of Switzerland, Austria, Romania, the Moldau and the Balkans.
Polenta is also enjoying steady popularity in Germany and has even found its way into award-winning kitchens.
What is polenta?
Polenta is a solid porridge made mostly from corn grits.
Polenta is a solid pulp with a slightly sweet taste that is usually made from corn grits. The corn grits are cooked in a pot with plenty of water or vegetable broth, where it swells up after boiling and can even be cut into slices after cooling and can be enjoyed piece by piece.
Depending on the recipe, the porridge dish can also be cooked with spelled or buckwheat flour and goes well with many dishes.
You can buy the typical yellow corn grits in the well-stocked supermarket. More specific varieties can usually only be found in specialist shops.
Cornmeal is finer than polenta and not a typical ingredient in traditional corn porridge.
What types of polenta are there?
Polenta is not only available in the yellow form, but in other versions that are:
- Polenta bianca: The white polenta is particularly common in Veneto and is made from a lighter variety of corn grits. The bianca polenta has a milder taste than the classic polenta and goes particularly well with fish and seafood.
- Polenta nera: Polenta nera is made from buckwheat or chestnut flour and is dark in color, which is made even more intense by the color of squid. The taste of the polenta is also enhanced by parmesan and anchovy fillets.
- Bramata: The Bramata is the Swiss variant of polenta. The recipe for this consists of coarse corn grits, which you refine with herbs and cheese. Bramata is well suited as the sole main course or as an accompaniment to spicy ragouts.
- Grits: The dish grits is served in the southern United States. It is a creamy porridge made from ground corn that is often served with shrimp, cheese or meat stews.
In addition, variants of polenta are known under the names Katschamak (Bulgaria, Serbia, Albania), Mamaliga (Romania), Puliszka (Hungary), Ugali (East Africa), Paluckes (Transylvania) and Riebel / Ribel (Switzerland, Austria, Liechtenstein).
Where does the polenta come from?
Polenta is part of the cooking tradition in northern Italy, Provence and Spain, among others.
The forerunner of polenta was already known and loved in Italy in ancient Rome. At that time the porridge known under the name “puls” or “pulmentum” was prepared with millet, spelled or chickpea flour. Barley or far (a type of wheat) was later used in recipes.
In contrast, the preparation with corn is still relatively new. It was only after 1650 that the "Turkish grain" that Christopher Columbus brought to Europe from the New World became popular in Italian cuisine. Shortly afterwards, the triumphant advance of the former poor people's food from Spain to southern Russia and is still eaten today in northern Italy, which is why the southern Italians sometimes disparagingly refer to their comrades from the north as "polentoni" (= polenta eater).
Where does the name polenta come from?
The name "Polenta" comes from the Latin word for barley barley and is related to the German terms pollen and powder, which can be explained by the fine, small-grain consistency. The dialect form "polenda", which is used in Tuscany, can also refer to any porridge made from other types of grain.
What nutrients does polenta contain?
Corn grits are the main ingredient in polenta.
At around 350 kcal per 100 grams, polenta is very nutritious and primarily provides carbohydrates that only have a moderate effect on blood sugar levels. As a rule, the low-fat side dish is easily digestible and because it is gluten-free, it is also suitable for people with gluten intolerance. Polenta provides only a small amount of fiber.
The most important vitamins are vitamins A, K, C, B1 and B5. It also contains calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron and silica.
Note: When the polenta was introduced in Europe, pellagra came about due to the one-sided diet with the polenta porridge, since the corn was not boiled in lime water like the Indians, which is why the people suffered a niacin deficiency.
This is how polenta is prepared
The traditional preparation of polenta in a pot is not particularly complicated, but quite exhausting. Because the mass has to be stirred continuously for an hour until it has reached a smooth consistency. Under no circumstances should it burn. Only the golden brown crust that forms on the wall of the pot is allowed, which can be dipped in milk or nibbled as a snack.
- Let the semolina slowly trickle into boiling salted water (about 1 part fine corn semolina in about 4 parts liquid to stir in), with coarse semolina you can use a little more liquid.
- Let the mixture boil for a few minutes and then simmer in a saucepan on the stove over a low heat.
- Stir the mixture at regular intervals and always in the same direction for at least an hour to ensure an even and creamy consistency.
- If the polenta comes off the pot, it is done.
It becomes easier if you use pre-cooked polenta meal or even instant polenta in the recipe. The preparation remains the same, but the preparation time is reduced to five to fifteen minutes. To make the polenta more spicy, you can use vegetable broth instead of water when cooking. Milk or cream instead of water make the corn grits mild and creamy after boiling.
Then spread the finished polenta on a flat wooden board or baking sheet and cut into thick slices with a string or a sharp knife. Cut-resistant polenta works best with a medium-fine to coarse grain.
The taste becomes even more piquant if you stir in a piece of butter and two tablespoons of Parmesan as additional ingredients into the porridge.
Alternatively, in other recipes, the porridge can also be poured with cold milk, baked with melted butter and Parmesan and served or served with sauce like pasta. Fine to medium-fine corn grits are ideal for the delicious, creamy polenta.
Polenta slices based on a recipe from Austrian cuisine
These polenta slices are particularly suitable as an accompaniment to game dishes.
- 3 tablespoons of oil
- 550 milliliters of water
- 50 g butter
- 1 pinch of pepper
- 1 pinch of nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 120 g corn grits
- Put the milk, butter, nutmeg, salt and pepper in a saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil. Then stir in the polenta. If you don't have any milk in the house, you can use a 20:80 mixture of cream and water if necessary. Milk is preferable to cream. Stir the porridge for about three minutes.
- Grease a baking sheet and spread the mixture about the thickness of a finger on the baking sheet. Let them cool down there.
- Cut the polenta into triangles. Now the searing follows.
- Add oil to the pan you want to use for frying and fry the polenta slices on both sides.
Tip: If you want, you can also add cheese or herbs to the mixture.
What does polenta go well with?
Polenta is known in many varieties.
When the polenta is ready, the cookbooks have many recipes with various possible combinations. If you want, you can enjoy the polenta with garlic, stuffed mushrooms, grated Parmesan, herbs such as parsley, bacon or onions. You can bake your polenta in the oven in a casserole dish previously greased with butter or prepare a salad as a dish, create a polenta pizza in the oven, use it as a soup, make baked polenta or serve it as semolina creamy and with flavors and Season spices such as nutmeg or pepper and season to taste. It is particularly noble in combination with porcini mushrooms or truffles. It is traditionally spread on a board while it is warm and then eaten piece by piece directly from there.
As a side dish, polenta goes perfectly with braised meat dishes such as ragout, goulash or stew and also tastes good with Mediterranean vegetables, spicy tomato sauces, seafood or minced meat.
Polenta in the sweet version
Polenta also delights with some sweet versions.
Polenta doesn't just have to be hearty, it is also a delicious dessert. To do this, the salt in the cooking water is replaced by sugar and the sweet porridge is then sprinkled with granulated sugar. Berries, nuts or maple syrup go well with it.
If you want, you can also fry the sweet polenta in the pan and then combine the fried polenta with fruit compote or ice cream, for example.
Recipe for sweet corn porridge
The preparation of sweet corn porridge is not complicated and even beginners can easily cook the porridge as a side dish or dessert. Instead of water, milk is used here for preparation.
Ingredients for 4 servings
- 1 packet of vanilla sugar
- 50 grams of sugar
- 35 grams of corn grits
- 250 ml milk
- 1 lemon
- 2 eggs
- Rub the zest of the lemon.
- Mix the vanilla sugar, 30 grams of sugar and the corn grits. Bring the milk and lemon zest to the boil and sprinkle in the semolina mixture.
- Bring the polenta to the boil and let it swell over low heat for twenty minutes, stirring frequently.
- When the twenty minutes are up, take the polenta off the heat and let it cool down briefly.
- Separate the two eggs and put the two egg whites and a pinch of salt in a measuring cup and beat both with a hand mixer for a few minutes until frothy. Then pour in the remaining twenty grams of sugar. Beat the creamy mass until stiff.
- Now fold the mixture into the very warm corn porridge and let the sweet polenta cool down.
The corn porridge is particularly tasty when enjoyed with fruit. Mango, for example, is delicious here. You can enjoy the sweet corn porridge with any fruit.
How much polenta do I have to calculate per person?
Since polenta is very nutritious and a real filler, it usually only takes small amounts to fill you up. On average, you can expect an amount of 80 grams per person for the preparation if the polenta is the main course. If the corn porridge is served as a side dish, 50 grams as a portion is usually sufficient.
How is polenta made firm?
Sometimes, despite the correct recipe, it is not possible to get the polenta firm after cooking. You have a good chance if you use medium-coarse polenta semolina for the polenta slices and let it cool down first at room temperature and then in the refrigerator. Then use a sharp blade to cut the cuts and keep rinsing the knife with cold water to get slices with nice, straight edges. Alternatively, you can cut the polenta into diamonds after cooking.
How long can polenta be stored in the refrigerator?
Finished polenta can be stored in the refrigerator for about two to three days after cooking. The best way to eat them is to fry them in the pan in olive oil until crispy. You can also pack the polenta slices in portions and freeze them until later consumption. This way, the polenta slices stay fresh for a long time.
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