Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The "How to make POLENTA" entry

A few weeks ago I switched from counting points on Weight Watchers to their Core Program. I don't know if it will work (still too early to say), but I have to say that I love it. They give you a list of foods that you can eat until you are satisfied (big key here) plus an extra 35 points during the week to play with. This works well for my triathlon and marathon training since a) I no longer feel like I'm starving myself to lose a few pounds b) the foods on the list is what I normally eat anyway.
So one of the foods on the WW Core list that you may eat when you want is...Polenta! I go on theWW boards every a few times a week and was sad to see that many of my fellow Americans have no idea what polenta is or (gasp) buy it ready made at the supermarket. So, I'm going tshow you how easy and inexpensive it is to make.

The first thing you want to do is go and buy a box or bag of polenta. It usually comes in 16 or 32 oz. When you open the box up you'll see that it is actually ground corn. It will be roughly ground up, not fine like flour. Don't be surprised to see little brown specks in it, especially if you buy an organic type. Please don't buy the "instant" kind. It's not the same. Sort of the same difference in buying instant oatmeal or steel cut oats.

Take a big pot, like a soup pot, and fill it with two litres (or 1 and 3/4 quarts) of luke warm water.

Add one tablespoon of rock salt.

Measure out 500 grams (or 1 lbs, 1 oz.) of dry polenta and slowly drizzle it into the WARM water while stirring. You want to then turn your stove on and cook it (moderate heat) while stirring it with a wood spoon at least every minute. In this first photo it's really watery and milky looking...

...this is five minutes later and it's already starting to firm up...

Geez...I'm such a bad photographer! Anyway, this is about fifteen minutes into cooking and you can see that it's getting clumpy. At this point you can put the flame (or electric coil?) on low and go back and stir it every few minutes so that it doesn't burn, but it still needs to cook another ten or fifteen minutes. You will know when it is done because when you stir, the polenta comes off and away from the bottom or sides of the pot. From start to finish this should be about 30 minutes. Now that it's cooked you want to take the whole pot of it...

...and spread it out on a clean table. You can just use a wood spoon to spread it out, it should be about an inch and a half high. In some rustic restaurants in the northern Italy they'll put the polenta directly on your table and have you eat off of it. At home you can either take a serving right there while it's hot, put it in a bowl and put your favorite topping on it OR you can wait until its cool and firm and...

...Grill it. I don't use any oil when I grill pieces of polenta but sometimes I'll put on a little olive oil once they're done. You can top them with - pieces of melted cheese - tomato sauce - vegetable sauces - cut up pieces and put them in salads.

If you have any leftover (or you want to cook it up to use for grilling later) just slice it into big chunks, put into plastic wrap, and put it in the fridge. It'll keep for up to a week, but I've never actually had it last that long since we eat it up pretty fast! Buon Appetito!!

1 comment:

dg said...

cool! grat entry, i always wanted to know how to make that :)

and the blog is lookin good too!