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Ingredient Lookup

Polenta

Nutritional Information

1 cup cooked, polenta

  • Calories 205
  • Calories from Fat 8.28
  • Amount%DV
  • Total Fat 0.92g1%
  • Saturated Fat 0.126g1%
  • Monounsaturated Fat 0.231g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat 0.397g
  • Cholestreol 0mg0%
  • Sodium 231mg10%
  • Potassium 91mg3%
  • Total Carbohydrate 43.45g14%
  • Dietary Fiber 4.1g16%
  • Sugars 0.36g
  • Protein 4.74g9%
  • Calcium 3mg0%
  • Iron 66mg367%
  • Vitamin A 12%
  • Vitamin C 0%

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Polenta on Wikipedia:

For other uses, see Polenta (disambiguation). This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding reliable references. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (October 2009) Polenta with sopressa and mushrooms. This polenta was made with yellow flour of Storo.

Polenta is a dish made from boiled cornmeal. The word ``polenta`` is borrowed into English from Italian.

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Description

Polenta is made with ground yellow or white cornmeal (ground maize) originally made with Chestnut meal in ancient times. It can be ground coarsely or finely depending on the region and the texture desired. As it is known today, polenta derives from earlier forms of grain mush (known as puls or pulmentum in Latin or more commonly as gruel or porridge) commonly eaten in Roman times and after. Early forms of polenta were made with such starches as the grain farro and chestnut flour, both of which are still used in small quantity today. When boiled, polenta has a smooth, creamy texture due to the gelatinization of starch in the grain, though it may not be completely homogeneous if a coarse grind or a particularly hard grain such as flint corn is used.

Polenta was originally and still is a peasant food. In the 1940s and 1950s polenta was not topped with luscious sauces but eaten with just a little salted anchovy or herring: nourishing and filling but on the whole dull. The overreliance on corn as a staple food caused outbreaks of pellagra throughout much of Europe until the 20th century and in the American South during the early 1900s. Maize lacks readily accessible niacin unless cooked with alkali which nixtamalizes it.

Since the late 20th century, polenta has become a premium product. Polenta dishes are on the menu in many high-end restaurants, and prepared polenta can be found in supermarkets at high prices. Many current polenta recipes have given new life to an essentially bland and simple food, enriching it with meat and mushrooms sauces, and adding vegetables, beans or various cheeses into the basic mixture.

Preparation

Polenta, by Pietro Longhi

Polenta is often cooked in a huge copper pot known in Italian as paiolo. In northern Italy there are many different ways to cook polenta. The some Lombard polenta dishes are polenta taragna (which includes buckwheat flour), polenta uncia, polenta concia, polenta e gorgonzola, and missultin e polenta; all are cooked with various cheeses and butter, except the last one, which is cooked with fish from Lake Como. It can also be cooked with porcini mushrooms, rapini, or other vegetables or meats, such as small song-birds in the case of the Venetian and Lombard dish polenta e osei. In some areas of Piedmont it can be also made of potatoes instead of cornmeal (polenta bianca).

Western polenta is denser, while the eastern one is softer. The variety of cereal used is usually yellow maize, but buckwheat, white maize or mixtures thereof are also used.

Polenta is traditionally a slowly cooked dish. It sometimes takes an hour or longer, and constant stirring is necessary. The time and labor intensity of traditional preparation methods has led to a profusion of shortcuts. These include alternative cooking techniques that are meant to speed up the process. There are also new products such as instant polenta, popular in Italy, that allow for fast, easy preparation at home.

In his book Heat, Bill Buford talks about his experiences as a line cook in Mario Batali's Italian restaurant Babbo. Buford details the differences in taste between instant polenta and slowly cooked polenta, and describes a method of preparation that takes up to three hours, but does not require constant stirring: ``polenta, for most of its cooking, is left unattended.... If you don't have to stir it all the time, you can cook it for hours—what does it matter, as long as you're nearby?``[1]