spaghetti sauce, homemade preferred
Parmesan cheese, grated
1. Oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a medium pot bring chicken broth to a boil. Gradually whisk in corn meal.
Reduce heat to a medium flame Continue cooking until mixture is very thick and creamy, about 10 minutes. Add Parmesan cheese and milk, blending well.
3. In the meantime grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with olive oil. Pour Polenta mixture into pan. Bake for 20 minutes or until firm to touch. Let it sit and cool a few minutes before removing from pan.
4. Cut into 8 square pieces. Brush both sides of polenta lightly with olive oil and then place onto a medium flame grill. Grill both sides for a few minutes. Serve immediately with homemade spaghetti sauce over the top and garnish with grated Parmesan cheese. Serves 8.
5. ENJOY! – Great appetizer or anytime dish!
© This recipe courtesy of Somebodys-Mom.com
This column is dedicated to my mom, gone but never forgotten, for Mother’s Day!
(One of my friends, Nancy, asked me how do you cook Polenta? She received a store bought polenta as part of a gift and gave it to me. She had never used Polenta before and didn’t know anything about it.
I decided to conduct a taste test of the store bought Polenta along with my mom’s homemade Polenta recipe. My husband and I sampled both Polentas, prepared the same way of brushing olive oil on both sides and grilling. My husband said both were good, but I preferred my mom’s for two reasons. First and foremost, my mom’s had more flavor and second was the texture. The store bought polenta slice was too grainy and tense for me, and my mom’s was more softer and creamier on the inside while crispy on the outside.)
Food is a very strong influence in my life. If you read my column you know me and you know my relationship with food. Food is part of who I am. All special occasions in my life conjure up memories of food and that is how I relate to them. For others, it is visions or smells. My friend, Maura, can tell you what color clothes a person was wearing on a particular day from the past. Every memory for her is a color. She has extraordinary total recall of many events from our shared childhood for which I have none. But if food is involved, I can remember what we ate and with whom.
I realize that food is very powerful for most people in my circle of friends and family. My friends all cook certain foods for certain reasons. Jean will serve sausage in memory of her father because he really enjoyed it, even though her dad has been deceased for over 20 years. When another friend’s daughter left for college, she still faithfully brought home chicken cutlets because her daughter liked them so much. My own daughter, Mia, became very emotional when she went to an Italian restaurant after her godfather, Uncle Dom, passed away. She was reluctant to order Tortoni ice cream, which he always ordered for her when he took us all out to dinner. She felt she couldn’t bare have to have it with him not there. I, myself, always think of my father whenever I have raviolis. That was our favorite dish and I always remember him sitting at the head of the table on a Sunday afternoon with a big bowl of raviolis in front of him. These memories of people and their recipes make me feel as if everyone I have written about is honored and a part of my life, even if they are no longer physically with us.
Cooking for loved ones, gone but not forgotten, brings me to this recipe for Polenta. I have such a vivid fond memory of my mother taking out a pan of Polenta from the oven on a Friday evening with everyone home at the dinner table. When I asked her for her Polenta recipe years ago, my mom could only remember that she made it with chicken broth and corn meal. I had this quest to make Polenta and remember a happy time from my childhood family home life. I searched cookbooks and talked to many people about it. Unfortunately, I could not find a recipe I liked until now. In a homemade pasta shop in New Jersey, I noticed that they sold a grainer corn meal used for Polenta. I talked to the woman behind the counter and we connected over cooking and she told me the way she made Polenta. I promised to mail her one of my recipes, and I made some scribble notes on her polenta recipe which called for water instead I followed my mom’s advice of using chicken broth, and it tasted great! Every time I eat Polenta I happily relive fond memories of sitting around our Formica kitchen table in Woodside, Queens. We didn’t have enough chairs to fit around the table, so I sat on a little wooden stool my dad had made. I never minded because we certainly had more than enough love to go around that old table even without all the chairs!