When I was growing up dishes made with cornmeal were “winter dishes”. The wood-burning stove crackled. The kettle always steamed. Out of the oven came “toad-in-the-hole” – plump little sausages baked in cornmeal bread, johnny cake – cornbread squares smothered in butter and lavished with Canadian maple syrup, and cornbread spiced with red peppers. I love cooking and baking with cornmeal!!
For supper last night I made one of my favorite “go to” chicken dish, Chicken Provencal (recipe to the right). It’s such an easy dish to whip up, and the flavours are addictive. I had made a generous amount of the sauce and felt it required something other than the ubiquitous pasta. Polenta , a creamy, soft polenta. This recipe does not require standing over the polenta pot stirring, stirring, stirring, until it is done. It does take around 45 minutes so time it to hit your plates and the dinner table. Polenta waits for no man – or woman.
SOFT CREAMY POLENTA (for two hungry souls)
2 1/4 cups flavor filled chicken stock, 1/2 cup cornmeal, salt and white pepper, 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, 1 or 2 tablespoons butter.
Bring the chicken stock to a boil. Add a little salt to taste. Gradually whisk in the cornmeal. Continue whisking for a minute or so. Reduce heat to a low simmer and cover. Set your timer for 11 minutes. Whisk again for about one minute. Recover. Set timer for another 11 minutes. Do this four times for a total of 44-45 minutes. Be sure to scrape the bottom of the pan when whisking as polenta as a tendency to cling there. Now whisk in the butter and cheese. Taste for seasoning and add more salt, and freshly ground white pepper. Spoon a generous amount onto your plate and top with the chicken and sauce.
If you have left over polenta spoon it into a flat baking dish. It will set almost immediately. Refrigerate. Left over polenta is delicious grilled.