The Polenta that Ate Vancouver

cornmeal, polenta, food, cooking, recipes

Store-bought polenta looks like a monstrous, pale sausage. From tumblr.com

One of the discoveries of my recent Apocalypse Diet was a surfeit of cornmeal. In all I probably had three cups in two jars. With no sugar nor eggs I wasn’t sure I could make anything until a friend suggested polenta. I decided to stop the diet before I was eating only polenta, an unappealing possibility because I’ve had it before and it is definitely a vehicle for sauces and not a tasty dish on its own.

So I looked up polenta recipes. So easy. All that’s needed is water, salt and cornmeal. I was a little incredulous when it said 7 cups of water and 1 2/3 cups of cornmeal. But follow the directions on the first try.

I put the water in the pot with the 1 tbsp of salt. I used coarse grain salt, which might have been a problem. When the water had a nice boil going, the recipe said to sift the cornmeal through your fingers, adding slowly to the constantly boiling water, and whisking the whole time. Unfortunately, this requires three hands. I gave up on the sifting and just poured and whisked. Be warned! The recipe does not mention the geyser like blorps of hot spewing cornmeal. Luckily I jumped out of the reach and had to remove the pot a couple of times to calm it down.

Once all the cornmeal is in you switch to a wooden spoon and stir vigorously for 45 minutes until the cornmeal pulls away from the side of the pot. I probably should have used my Dutch oven instead of the slightly smaller pot because I had some errant morsels escape and burn on the stove.

polenta, cornmeal, gruel, food, cooking, recipes

The thickness of the polenta depends on the amount of water. With 7 cups, mine was thicker than this but about the same consistency as store bought polenta. From: http://romanianrecipes.wikia.com/wiki/Quick_Polenta

I stirred, and stirred…and stirred. And then I began to wonder if 7 cups of water was enough. The stuff thickened to a paste, to a mortar, all the while bubbling. You have to stir a lot to get the bubbles to release when it’s that thick. Teamwork would be useful for this seemingly simple process. I think I lasted 20 minutes. My arms were aching, my hands reddened by grasping the thin handle of the wooden spoon. I even had to take my rings off to stir.

After I gave up I prepared for the last stage; pour cold water into a bowl, then throw it out and put the cornmeal in. It makes a great wiggling mound. The alternative is to turn it out on the board but I was afraid of its amorphous properties. It’s interesting to note that I think this would have been a great zombie deterrent. Throw the boiling mass at a lumbering undead thing and it would stick, clog their nostrils and limit their decaying sight.

After 15 minutes I turned the mass out on the counter and it held its mountain of madness shape. There was enough that I sliced it into eights and froze it. For whatever reason the tablespoon of salt was too much. Maybe coarse salt is too strong. When I used it in cooking I didn’t need any salt in the rest of the food. I cleaned the stove immediately and it was hard enough to remove, but putting cold water in the pot, the residue cornmeal removed easily like a skin.  If I ate the polenta every day, it would probably last nearly two weeks. Next time, a bigger pot and a catapult for lobbing it at the zombies.

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6 Comments

Filed under Culture, food

6 responses to “The Polenta that Ate Vancouver

  1. Bunny Eats Design

    I tried cooking polenta for the first time around this time last year. It was one of those things that I’d read about, but never tried. I wanted to know what the fuss was all about. Like you, after stirring until my limbs hated me, I still don’t see what the fuss about.

    Most zombies suffer from the most dreadful cateracts and don’t take care of their eyesight very well. There are no zombie optometrists and zombies tend to lose spectacles very easily in everyday zombie shuffles. Therefore I don’t think that further limiting a zombie’s sight would deter them. The nostril clogging might be a winner though.

    What are you going to do with all this polenta now?

    • colleenanderson

      The last two nights I mixed the polenta with shrimp, fennel root, tomatoes, green beans, mushrooms and spices. It’s in the freezer for the rest of it to be mixed with other sauces.

      • Bunny Eats Design

        I think that may have been my problem. I didn’t mix the polenta with enough things.

  2. It sounds like you burn off any energy you might gain from eating the polenta in the process of making it! Cous cous has just got to be easier.

  3. Pingback: Polenta Chips « Rhianna's Guide to Ethical Eating

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