This is just one of a thousand different ways to make and enjoy polenta. Over the years, different preparations and alterations were created to make a variety of flavorful polenta. It was a staple food for everyone especially in Northern Italy because of its availability and versatility. Check out my recipe and I am also sharing my story below about my very first taste of polenta.
- 9 oz instant polenta
- 1 ½ oz dried porcini
- 4 ½ cups chicken stock
- 1/3 lb mascarpone
- 5 tbs butter
- 1 garlic clove – minced
- 3 sprigs basil – finely chopped
- 3 sprigs parsley – finely chopped
- salt and pepper – to taste
- Soak mushrooms in 1 cup of warm water for about 30 minutes. Drain.
- Melt 2 tbs of butter in a skillet. Add garlic and mushrooms, stir well and cook over low heat for about 5 minutes.
- Add parsley and basil and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and keep warm.
- In a large pot with the chicken stock, cook the instant polenta according to the package directions. Just before serving, stir in 3 tbs of butter.
Spoon hot polenta into individual bowls and top with mascarpone and a spoonful of the mushroom mixture. Or do as my Little Nonna did for us and pour it out on your pasta board and let the family dig in.
My Very First Taste of Polenta
In the family, I was the third of 4 children. My two older sisters were both born in the late 20’s and my baby brother was born a few years after me in the 40’s. So, growing up in the 40’s is a time period I can really relate to. There was a war going on. Several family members and friends were off fighting somewhere, and that was really the extent of what I understood of the war at that young age. I do remember that we prayed every night for our troops. Along with that, we saved grease in a jar under the sink that we accumulated as we cooked. We brought the grease somewhere when the jar was filled, and I think it was made into candles. Now that I have aged, I really don’t know why I’ve thought of that. But all I remember was that all of these were really a war effort and we were doing it for the troops. I was feeling good about our effort to help, although I’m sure we did a lot more.
Understandably, the fear of my parents about the war was worse because they totally comprehended what was going on. Meat, sugar, and other items were rationed. We were given stamps to buy certain items on a limited basis when they were available. We had air raids and “lights out” drills at night when we had to shut off our lights and lower our shades. My brother and I were sent to our room, and we huddled together under covers vowing to protect one another.
With the rationing of meat, polenta became a staple in our house. We didn’t feel deprived because polenta could be enjoyed in many different and economical ways and I’m sure we tried them all. My Little Nonna would make polenta and when she makes one for a treat, she would pour it out on the huge pasta board. My Nonna has always been there, so I mention her in almost all of my stories. After she made the polenta, we just slid up our plates to the board and scooped into our dish the amount we wanted. Nothing fancy but it did take the edge off having polenta again. For us, this was a treat. I am still aghast when I see polenta on a restaurant menu and take notice of the price!