There is a reason why the Italian nickname for norther Italians is “polentoni”. It applies to all the inhabitants conquered by polenta.
Polenta is a typical food that stretches from the Alpine foothills, such as Belluno (a province in the Veneto region) to the Adriatic Sea; it is popular also in the Slovenia region of Yugoslavia and in Austria’s Tyrol. Here, pasta is not the staple – it is, in fact, polenta.
Polenta is an ancient dish dating back to Roman times. The traditional polenta is mixed for a long time and cooked in a pot until it becomes dense and then divided into slices with a wire thread on a wood cutting board. Since the introduction of American products to Europe, in the early decades of the sixteenth century. it has been made predominantly with cornmeal. Most modern polenta is yellow, but there is also a white version made from biancoperla maize.
In Veneto, polenta is typically served with chicken, rabbit, or stew veal. It is, as well, the perfect pottage for mushrooms, cod, cheese, especially schiz-cheese from the Belluno area, cured meats, or sausages. In Agordo, Cadore, and Cortina d’Ampezzo, it is tradition to add a bit of buckwheat flour to the normal cornflour to get a darker and grainier polenta, with an intense and slightly bitter flavor.
In older times, polenta was often served with milk for simple breakfast or evening dinner. “Patugoi”, “pape”, “cavernola”, “dufeta”, “pestariei” are all local variations of cold or hot polenta made with corn flour cooked in milk. These food combinations are of great simplicity but with surprising changes in taste, especially with the addition of fresh or melted butter, grated smoked ricotta, herbs, or spices.
Easy Polenta Recipe
- Serves 4 people
- Cooking: 1h
For the polenta:
- 1 liter of water
- Salt to taste
- Yellow and white polenta flour
For the cheese sauce:
- ¼ liter cooking cream
- Smoked ricotta to taste
- 300gr of fresh Padola and Costalta cheeses
Prepare a soft polenta.
- Separately, melt the cheeses and mix them with the cream.
- Cook the mixture over low heat.
- Once the cream is smooth and hot, pour it onto a serving dish.
- With a spoon dipped in milk, form gnocchi with the polenta and place the gnocchi on the cream in a flower shape.
- Sprinkle with grated smoked ricotta and chives.
- Serve with melted malga butter, lightly browned.