Since that time I’ve spent a lot of time cooking it, discussing it with others and picking the heads of some of the best Chefs in the city who have all been glad to offer their opinions and techniques. I thought it was time to pay back their generosity with me and return the favour.
Here’s our top tips:
- Although any cornmeal will make fine polenta, if you can find exceptional cornmeal, you can make exceptional polenta (I am so thankful to Kawartha Ecological Growers who found an additional 3 kilograms (6 pounds) for us to get us through to next winter).
- As is suggested in our comments of the original article, milk is not needed – but it really does add something extra to it.
- Bringing the liquid to a boil before adding the cornmeal definitely produces better results.
- Remove the pot from the heat when adding the cornmeal and reduce heat before returning it to the burner. The slower the better. I tend to lower the heat to the lowest setting and whisk every 5 minutes or so for the best results.
- Let it cool naturally. Putting it in the fridge or freezer to cool causes condensation. I let it cool in the pot and whisk every few minutes. I form it into a loaf once cooling is more than half done (when the polenta stops easily falling through the whisk, its time to form in a loaf). This will also help prevent cracking and/or breaking of the loaf.
- Make it the day before (or more). Its far easier to slice and more likely to stay together when cooking if it is cold. We’re experimenting with freezing slices.
- I’ve moved away from trying to make ‘tubes of polenta and switched to loaves made in a gently buttered loaf pan.
- Once polenta is poured into the loaf pan, I gently butter the back of a spoon and push down on the loaf to help ensure a ‘flat’ top as well as to coax air pockets out.
- Replacing the water with stock was not a huge advantage and disguised much of the corn flavor.
- Adding moderate amounts of dried goods will work – but will require more liquid as those rehydrate in the polenta.
- Tomato paste adds a great hit of Umami (savoury flavor).
Any other tips out there?