Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Frugal Eggplant- Microwave polenta

There is more than one way to make this, but here's what I do. First of all, there is no need to buy the more expensive product called "polenta." Buy corn meal, finely ground (or experiment if you like). Then, get a round microwave-proof container of medium to large size. Pyrex is nice. The proportions of water to corn meal should be about 4 or 5 to 1, depending on the desired consistency. Again, you must practice.

I set the salted water in the microwave and bring it to a boil (actually, it will only ever come to a simmer). Quickly open the door and spoon the corn meal into the water, being careful to avoid lumps. Stir rapidly as you do this. Return swiftly to microwave, cook several minutes, open door and stir again, checking for doneness. Continue to cook (and stir again, if necessary), checking every two minutes or so.

The polenta as prepared above will be a soft polenta suitable as a side, especially for meat (ribs, chicken, roast). Polenta can also be a meal itself as polenta concia, or dressed polenta. I like cheese, or mushrooms, or both. I don't care for a tomato sauce as a topping. If you would prefer a firm polenta, allow the above to harden in a rectangular or at least a square container. Upon cooling it will set, depending on the initial consistency. You can then slice it and warm it with butter, or even grill the slices.

Remember that in this as in other Italian dishes such as risotto, practice makes perfect.