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Old 08-24-2005, 01:37 PM   #1
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Polenta Technique

I made some polenta this morning for the first time. Like a good DC member, I looked up some recipes and discussions first and noticed the advice to pour cornmeal into the boiling liquid in a thin stream.

What's a good technique to achieve a thin stream? I just poured it out of a 2-cup measure with one hand while stirring with the other hand, and the cornmeal just sort of glopped out, of course creating lumps.

I beat the snot out of it with my whisk, but a few smallish lumps remained. I'm not too worried about the consistency (gonna slice and grill it later anyway) and will practice some more, but is there something else I could have/should have done?

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Old 08-24-2005, 01:47 PM   #2
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It just takes practice. You did all the right things, but it is not easy to get that thin stream. Keep trying and you will get it.
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Old 08-24-2005, 02:02 PM   #3
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Okey doke. Thanks, buddy.
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Old 08-24-2005, 02:06 PM   #4
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I just thought of an idea. Do you have one of those flexible cutting mats? You could pour it from one of those and maybe it would pour as more of a slow stream. Actually I have found the steam does not have to be all that slow. The key is to have it be steady and not "glop" out like you described.
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Old 08-24-2005, 02:16 PM   #5
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Don't have one of those cutting mats, but I did think that next time I might use some wax paper to pour it from. I think another problem was that I used two cups of cornmeal (can't seem to make a small amount of anything), so the measuring cup was quite full when I started 'pouring.'

I also thought maybe I would just keep adding healthy pinches with my fingers, but I think that would take forever!
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Old 08-24-2005, 02:23 PM   #6
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Mudbug:

Was the cornmeal loose and lump free before you started to pour it? Sometimes humidity will cause clumps. Next time make sure the corn meal is loose and clump free before pouring. Also, try pouring while moving the measuring cup back and forth side to side as if you were trying to evenly spread the corn meal on a baking sheet or similar.
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Old 08-24-2005, 02:25 PM   #7
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Perhaps you could reserve a little of the water meant for boiling, putting it in a cup, then add the dry cornmeal to that, stirring until all lumps are disolved. Then, when the water boils, pour from the cup. Keep stirring - you shouldn't get any lumps.

Cooking corn meal is something my family does all the time, and I've watched my Auntie Sylvia, who LOVES that stuff, make it a thousand times. It's a staple food for just about every culture in Africa, I think because it's so inexpensive. When eaten for breakfast, it's made to a much thinner consistancy, and served with cream and sugar and maybe a little butter - as a porridge. If it's being made to serve with a lunch or dinner dish, it's made much thicker. They call this mielie-pap, or just pap (pronounced pup - mielie means corn). Both white and yellow corn meal are used. The stiffer consistancy pap is called stywe (for stiff) pap or, sometimes krummel pap (crumbly), is served with a sauce, usually tomato/onion based. Another of my Aunts likes to put corn kernals (frozen or from a tin) in with her stywe pap. I had never heard of polenta till I came here, but it seems very similar. I'd like to try and make it, roll it into a round and then cut pieces to fry, serving with a good soft white cheese (brie?) and a tomato based sauce. Polenta certainly has a much nicer name.
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Old 08-24-2005, 02:35 PM   #8
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Andy, that might have been part of the problem. I'm also thinking that because I used a glass measuring cup, the grains stuck to it more than they would have to a metal cup.

Sandyj, polenta is indeed very similar to your pap. The breakfast porridge we would call cornmeal mush and is very popular in various parts of the U.S. I plan on slicing and grilling mine for dinner (it's firming up in the fridge as we speak) and pouring this lovely roasted red pepper sauce I made the other day over it. The Brie sounds delicious!
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Old 08-24-2005, 02:38 PM   #9
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It's also good fried up and served with maple syrup for breakfast.
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Old 08-24-2005, 02:41 PM   #10
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I will make sure to tell HH that, Andy! I made plenty, so there will be lots left over. What do you think - fry it up in olive oil for tonight and in butter for breakfast?
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