Polenta is generally served in Northern Italy as a substitute for bread. It is un-molded from the pot directly onto a wooden board in the shape of a semi sphere. Then, when cold, it is sliced with a string.
Polenta in central Italy, it is mostly served as a first course by itself. The polenta is poured onto a wooden board and spread in a thin layer, then dressed with different sauces.
Regular polenta cooks in about 45 minutes. The quantity of water will determine the final consistency of the polenta.
Stirring regular polenta can be very hard work. Precooked polenta is available at Italian delis. It needs only a few minutes of preparation, minimum stirring, and it doesn’t make lumps. Many Italian manufacturers offer a pre-steamed, good-quality product. If using one of these, follow the manufacturer’s directions for time and quantity of water.
Imported Italian corn flour can be substituted with cornmeal. Choose the coarse grind or mix fine and coarse together for a better texture similar to the Italian one. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the timing and quantity of water.
7 cups (1600 cc) water
2 teaspoons salt
17 oz (500 g) polenta corn flour
Prepare a saucepan full of water, and bring it to a simmer for eventual use during the preparation. Put 7 cups (1600 cc) of water and salt in a pot and turn heat to medium. Bring the water to a boil and when the water starts simmering, add the corn flour a little at a time, stirring continuously with a whisk or a wooden spoon to prevent the polenta from clotting.
Continue to stir with a wooden spoon and boil the polenta for about 30 to 45 minutes.
The polenta is ready when it is resisting to the spoon and starts pulling away from the walls of the pan. The absorption of water depends on the quality of the flour. If the polenta becomes too hard and doesn’t pull away from the walls, add some warm water to adjust the consistency until it is like a dense paste.
While the polenta is still hot, pour it onto a wooden board or transfer it to serving dishes.
While the polenta is still hot, pour it onto a lightly oiled wooden board or transfer it directly to serving dishes.
When the polenta is cold, it can be easily sliced with a string.
Alternatively, the polenta can be spread on a wooden board with a spatula to a layer about 1/2” (1 cm) thick.