May there be an abundance of grain on the earth.
Now that we are well into the cold month of February warm and comforting foods are a must in my house! I have been busy making large quantities of soups, broths and hearty stews to keep the chill away. As you might remember from last year, one of the ways I express love is through my cooking. I’m certain that I absorbed this from my mother, and she from her mother, back through all the generations of my family. Though not soup, as a child, one of my favorite cold weather meals was a very simple one.
My mother, raised in a large farm family during the depression, knew the value of thrift.
When they were filled, He said to His disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments so that nothing will be lost.”
So she made Mamaliga weekly, which is polenta or cornmeal mush and is essentially Romanian comfort food. My mother’s version was pretty basic; cooked up quickly in a pot of boiling water until thick and bubbly. This was absolutely delicious mixed with butter and cheese, and the entire family loved it. Each time I had this comforting dish, I felt like I was wrapped in my mother’s love.
However, as much as I loved her polenta, I found that, instead of water, if you use a broth (your choice, but I used chicken), the polenta takes on a richer flavor. And the addition of a cup of grated Parmesan cheese enhances the dish even more. The caveat is that you have to pour boiling water over the dry cornmeal at least an hour or so before you cook it. This allows the grains to absorb the water, plump and decreases the cooking time. Really, who wouldn’t love a rich and creamy polenta, especially on a cold winter day? Sounds like love to me!
Diff: Easy Time: 1+ hr rest + 15 min
cook time Serves: 8
2 cups polenta, medium ground
3 cups boiling water
3 cups low sodium
1 tsp sea salt
3 T unsalted butter
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp freshly grated black pepper
At least 1 hour ahead, start polenta. Add polenta to a 4 qt. heavy saucepan or dutch oven and whisk in the boiling water. Cover and let sit at room temperature for 1 or up to 12 hours.
When you are ready to cook, add the broth and salt to the saucepan and whisk well to loosen and break up any lumps in the polenta.
Bring to boil over medium high heat, whisking occasionally. Continue to cook, lowering heat and whisking continuously to maintain a low bubbling until the mixture thickens, about 2 minutes.
Decrease heat to low, just enough to maintain a simmer. Cover and cook, stirring every few minutes until polenta becomes creamy and thick, about 10-12 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in the butter, Parmesan, and pepper until all ingredients are incorporated. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve at once with additional cheese, if desired.
If you have polenta left over, put it into a loaf pan or mold and refrigerate overnight. Then the next morning, fry up slices of polenta and top with your choice of sweet or savory topping. My personal favorite is maple syrup, but salsa, tomato sauce, sour cream, yogurt or gravy also are terrific choices!
Hope you’ll make and enjoy this!
Until next time, wishing you . . .
all of God’s blessings, good health and happy eating!
Smiles and blessings,