I have tried making polenta before, but it was nothing to write about. It was yucky. Not even as good as grits. Then I saw this recipe, Polenta and Egg Breakfast, and thought I would give it a try. I didn't know which cornmeal to use. I had regular yellow corn meal I use for corn bread and a fine white self-rising cornmeal.
After research on the www, I discovered some interesting facts:
From Cook’s Illustrated: Baking soda added to the cooking liquid softens the endosperm, reducing the time it takes for gelatinization to occur, which in turn, shortens the cooking time; and use degerminated cornmeal.
From wikipedia: “Polenta has a creamy texture due to the gelatinization of starch in the grain, though it may not be completely homogeneous if a coarse grind or hard grain such as flint corn is used.”
From Chowhound: For creamy polenta, the ratio of water to polenta is 5:1.
I decided to use the self-rising cornmeal. It already has baking soda in it, it is degerminated and the fine texture would probably give a creamier texture than coarse ground.
I brought the water to a boil and whisked in the cornmeal. Yuck, a bunch of lumps. I threw it out and started over. If I want a no lump gravy, I quickly stir small amounts of water into the flour. Then stir the loose paste into simmering broth. For the creamiest oatmeal, I stir the oats into cold water. So I put the cornmeal into the pan first, whisked in cold water gradually, then brought it to a boil.
Hooray! Success! This recipe is very smooth and creamy. I even snacked on the cold leftovers.
1/4 cup Self-rising Cornmeal
1 1/4 cups Water
1/2 tbsp Butter
1 Tbsp Milk
1 Tbsp grated Parmesan Cheese
2 Tbsp grated sharp Cheddar Cheese
Dash hot sauce
Dash ground black pepper
Put corn meal in 1 quart saucepan with a tight fitting lid. Slowly stir in cold water with a whisk, eliminating all lumps. Bring to a boil stirring frequently. Cover tightly and turn heat to very low, barely a simmer. Set timer for 20 minutes. Stir every five minutes. After 15 minutes, stir in milk and butter. After 20 minutes, stir in the cheese, hot sauce and pepper. Taste for seasoning. Cover and let set at least five minutes or until rest of meal is ready to serve.