As a person whose forebears hail from cultures historically mocked for boiling vegetables until all vibrancy was irretrievably lost, my greatest culinary influences come from cultures other than my own. In an as-yet-unwritten story entitled A Tale of Two Lindas, I would describe how two vibrant Italian-American women would change me forever.
One of my mom’s dearest friends, my “Aunt” Linda is a first-generation Italian-American who during my childhood, would sweep into town for a visit and she, often accompanied by my other beloved “Aunt” Kathy, would take to the kitchen and our home became filled with aromas far more tantalizing than any corned beef I had ever smelled, or more exactly balked at in my youth.
Fast forward a few decades and another Italian-American Linda entered my life. Chef Linda Carucci is my single greatest culinary influence. Brilliantly intelligent, equally equipped with the impeccable culinary and instructional skills that earned her a cooking teacher of the year award from the International Association of Culinary Professionals, and a laugh that could break even the most stoic of folks, I have learned from and laughed with her for the past couple of decades. I worked as her assistant when she wrote her cookbook, Cooking School Secrets for Real World Cooks, from which this recipe is based.
Polenta is simple comfort food. Served warm and soft or cooled and sliced for other purposes, the addition of both Fontina and Parmesan cheeses makes Linda’s Creamy, Soft Polenta next-level. For the sake of those looking for a smaller portion, I have divided the original recipe in half. Gluten Freeing this recipe is a snap, provided all ingredients are gluten-free and not purchased from the bulk bins.
Creamy Soft Polenta, Half Batch
- April 25, 2021
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- 3/4 cups polenta
- 3 - 3 1/2 cups chicken stock, divided
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 ounce Fontina cheese (preferably Italian), diced or shredded
- 1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated
- Step 1
- With a whisk, stir together polenta, 1 1/4 cups of the stock, and salt in a saucepan.
- Step 2
- Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stir and scrape sides with a heatproof rubber spatula, cover, reduce heat to lowest setting, and cook for 10 minutes.
- Step 3
- Stir and taste–when done, polenta grains should be tender, but firm, and not mushy. If not done add stock about 1/2 cup at a time, stir constantly waiting until stock is absorbed before adding more, until consistency is reached. You won’t necessarily use all the stock.
- Step 4
- When done, polenta should be loose enough to lose its shape when you spoon some onto a plate, but not so loose that liquid seeps out around the edges
- Step 5
- Remove pan from heat and stir in the Fontina. When Fontina has melted, stir in the Parmesan.
- Step 6
- Taste and add salt, if necessary.
- Step 7
- If not serving immediately, cover, and keep off the heat in a warm place. If polenta thickens too much as it stands, thin with any remaining hot stock or milk.
- Step 8
- Adapted from <span style="text-decoration: underline
- Step 9
- ">Cooking School Secrets for Real World Cooks, © Linda Carucci, 2005. Used with permission.