Freshly milled polenta sardaHome >> Recipes
You don't need to wear Birkenstock or have a nuclear shelter in your backyard to want to mill your own polenta. Some people do it for self-reliance, others because it's healthy. I do it out of pure gluttony. Polenta is corn kernels ground to a coarse flour. The polenta sold in shops is a vamped-down shadow of the real stuff. Commercial mills have to remove some of the tastiest parts of the grain so the polenta will last more than a few days before turning really rancid. Most will precook and preseason it, so you're left with a sort of stale yellow industrial porridge. A meal fit for a donkey.
Mario Battali served me the Kool-Aid on milling your own flour for pasta making. Well, the ladies at the River Café in London convinced me to do the same for polenta. They claim Italians eat polenta only a couple months after the harvest - after that stone ground polenta turns rancid. Stone-ground polenta is not easy to find outside Italy and I like it all year round, so I decided to mill my own. These days home flour mills sell for $200 on Amazon. I have a beautiful beech wood Komo mill from Austria, my pride and joy. See a picture in Italian Buckwheat Noodles.
Put in dried corn kernels and turn on the mill. Adjust the fineness and sit back.
The mill starts spitting out fresh polenta like a cascade of sparks. 500 gr polenta is milled in 3 minutes flat. This is a close up view, the whole mill is about 35cm/1' high (photo of entire mill).
To show you how real polenta flour is used, I have made Polenta sarda, an extraordinary dish from a traditional Sardinian recipe:
In a heavy-bottomed saucepan heat the water/milk with 2 teaspoons salt. Add the polenta in a shower and beat well to dissolve any lumps. Don't wait for the water to boil before adding the polenta or when you pour the polenta in your pot will turn into a yellow volcano and spit scorching-hot polenta drops all around your kitchen. Increase heat to high while whisking often to dissolve any lumps. The polenta will initially split into a yellow layer at the bottom, water in the middle and some white bran on top. Just mix regularly and make sure it doesn't stick to the bottom. When it boils, decrease temperature to the lowest flame possible. After 15-30 minutes the polenta will be a nice homogenous mix. Then just leave it for about 3 hours and mix from time to time. Once the polenta reaches this stage it does not require constant mixing unless you have a very hot stove that could burn the bottom. Polenta is cooked when it falls off the pot's sides and is a thick, dense yellow paste. You can then mix in 100gr butter or 150gr finely grated parmesan cheese. These are often omitted but the polenta just tastes a whole lot better with added fat - one of them facts of life.Preparing the ragù photo).
Grease a large baking tray with a little butter or oil on a paper towel to prevent any sticking. Pour the hot polenta into the tray. Let it cool down in the fridge for at least one hour.
As it cools down the polenta sets. Cut it in 8cm/3'' long rhombuses with a plastic or wooden knife so as not to damage your baking tray.photo) and cover with a ladleful of ragù. photo).
This is a wonderful traditional Sardininan recipe which I found in an italian book with 5000 traditional regional italian recipes. The rich meat sauce and melted cheese combine with the rustic and complex flavor of the freshly milled polenta and fresh basil in a moment of pure delight. Another success in FXcuisine!