Monday, October 19, 2009

Autumn is here - let's have Polenta!

First, I need to apologize for being absent so long, but I was traveling all over the US for five weeks presenting the wonderful foods and wines of Italy and had no time left to write something worth your time. But now I am back and I promise that posting frequency will be back to normal asap!

When I left Italy, it was still summer: nice and warm, eating ice cream outside at 1am and wearing light summer dresses. I returned to a walk-in fridge. It is cold, foggy and absolutely no summer anymore. I am not even sure that this is even autumn - which would be in line with my earlier post about the loss of seasons. From not knowing how to create a breeze in our heat drenched apartments to turning on the heating - all in six weeks. Pretty impressive.

With colder weather comes the quest for all those nice autumn and winter dishes - risotto with porcini mushrooms! With white truffles! Or some nice, hearty polenta. Polenta is my favorite comfort food. I love the creaminess of the polenta (Italian for cornmeal), which goes hand in hand with a nice structure of the stone milled corn. This is important. Instant cornmeal is nothing I believe in. Too finely ground cornmeal is nothing I believe in either. My polenta needs to have a bite to it. And if that means that I have to stir it over a low flame for 50 minutes, than that is what I happily do. Plus, there is nothing more relaxing than zipping a nice glass of wine while observing at the bubbles in the polenta alining their tunes.

Try yourself with my favorite polenta recipe:

1/2 lb. Il Covone Cornmeal
10 fresh Italian style Sausages
2 cups mixed fresh mushrooms
1 shallot
1 cup dry white wine
½ cup parsley
2 leaves of sage
2 tbsp. of Cosimo’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil
freshly ground black pepper

Peel the sausage and cook the meat in an on olive oil lined pan over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Chop the shallot and sauté it in an olive oil in a separate pan. When the shallot is transparent, add chopped parsley, mushrooms. Add salt and pepper to taste. Once the mushrooms are soft, add the sausage and the wine, cooking over a medium-high temperature for about an hour.

To prepare the polenta, bringing 2 liters of salted water to boil. Gradually add the cornmeal, whisking it for five minutes. Continue to stir every four - five minutes with a wooden spoon at medium-low temperature until done (ca. 50 minutes).

Serve the polenta in a deep dish and the sauce in the middle (serves six)

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