The Polenta Chronicles

I've always been curious about polenta. How could I not be? It's like Italian grits! I've never made them, or had them in a restaurant, but after buying a box at the neighborhood Italian butcher shop, I decided to give it a shot. However, the box I bought was so authentic that the instructions were in Italian. Excellent. Time to hit the interwebs.Polenta can be soft or firm. Soft polenta is a creamy cereal, like grits. Firm polenta is soft polenta that has has been chilled, sliced and then either grilled, toasted or fried. I decided to make soft polenta one night (again with the grits theme).

I settled on Tyler Florence's Creamy Corn Polenta, since I've always like my grits creamy. I love Tyler Florence, mainly because he's handsome and lives in San Jose. And of course, he can cook! I can dream, right? I found a recipe for to top it with, and sauteed some frozen shrimp (my go-to protein these days). It works for grits, why not polenta? (Can you tell that most of my polenta knowledge was also based on grits?)
I followed the recipe exactly, except I except for using more milk and hot water instead of chicken stock to thin it out (didn't have any on hand). As soon as a whisked the polenta in, the mixture was very thick so I watered it down immediatly, wanting the grains to soak up liquid and be creamy. Maybe this was because I used "polenta express" but next time, I'll use 1 cup instead of a 1 and 1/2. Also, salt it when you put the polenta in, not 20 minutes later. Otherwise you will need tons of salt later (that's just grits 101, girls!)

The camalized mushrooms were amazing. I usual just saute quartered cremini mushrooms (much better flavor than white, they're like miniature portabellas) in garlic, salt, pepper and maybe some white wine if I'm feeling dangerous. But these were just almost easy and so good. Let the wine reduce down for about 10 minutes so the mushrooms can soak up the flavor and the wine can thicken. I'm definitely making those again, but maybe with a little less butter. I later cooked the shrimp in the same pan, with a little salt and pepper.

Overall, I think I'll be sticking to grits when I need some salty, creamy comfort food. But polenta is definitely interesting, and I'm curious to try it firm. It would be great with fish, maybe some green onions? Have y'all ever made/eaten polenta? What was it like?