"Great Breakfasts" Start With The Letter "P"
Post, Charles William
This cousin of grits was considered a food for peasants for centuries, but in recent decades it's found a new popularity as a gourmet food. Fancy restaurants the world over are now selling what is essentially cornmeal at wallet-busting prices. You can make your own polenta at home for about the same cost as oatmeal.
The difference between polenta and grits is very subtle. Polenta is ground cornmeal that's been mixed with a liquid to produce a mush. The same can be said for the most common form of grits called hominy grits -- except the corn that was ground to create it was treated in a lye solution to remove outer hull of the corn kernels. The fact that polenta contains the entire corn kernel (including the bran) makes it the healthier option of the two, but it also requires more time to cook in order to create the smooth texture associated with both dishes.
The secret ingredient in good polenta is patience. It takes a long time to prepare and it should be stirred and monitored often.
A basic recipe for polenta (for four) consists of 1 cup of cornmeal and 3 cups of water. The cornmeal is slowly stirred into the boiling water. After a couple minutes of stirring, the heat is reduced to a simmer and the mixture must continue to cook - being stirred often - for upwards of 45 minutes. Once the the texture is smooth and consistent, additional ingredients can be added for flavor.
Until recently, another simplified distinction could be made: grits were for breakfast and polenta was for supper. Increasingly, savory grits are showing up at the dinner table - usually as a side dish. While breakfast polenta has become an intriguing morning option.
The hard truth is that grits are often considered "low-brow" by chefs. Thanks to polenta, cornmeal mush is now considered stylish and this has resulted in exciting, new recipes.
Recipes with "Polenta" in the title:
Recipes with "Polenta" in the ingredients:
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