Corn was used as a dietary staple for tribes in North and South America. Today in the U.S., three-quarters of our corn produced is used for feeding livestock. Polenta is coarsely ground corn meal that is cooked and served as a kind of mush or cooked, allowed to set and then sliced. You can use broth instead of water as a cooking liquid or add cheese, vegetables or chilies to the cooked polenta to enliven the taste of plain polenta.
5 cups water or stock
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup polenta or corn grits
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil or butter
2-3 tablespoons parmesan cheese (optional)
Bring water to rapid boil. Add salt and oil or butter. Slowly add polenta, stirring continuously with a whisk. Lower heat and continue stirring in a clockwise motion with a wooden spoon for 20-30 minutes until mixture can hold the spoon upright on its own. (If using cheese, add it now.) Lightly oil a pie plate or 8-by-8 pan. Pour polenta into pan and smooth the top. Let cool. Slice and serve.
When mixture begins to heave or sputter, reduce heat to low, cover and let cook 30-40 minutes. (If using cheese, add it now.) Lightly oil a pie plate or 8-by-8 pan. Pour polenta into pan and smooth the top. Let cool. Slice and serve.
Preparation time: 50 minutes
Makes 8 slices.