Growing up, I never really liked polenta. My grandmother would frequently cook the gritty yellow mash, and I’d just kind of eat it with this muted disdain, asking for something else after I was done eating. I remember her customarily cooking it in water and then serving a warm bowl fresh from the stove, but I’ve had it a variety of ways: boiled in water, simmered in chicken stock, cooled and then pan-fried and of course, cooled and topped merely with parmesan. Nowadays I’ve somehow developed a deeper appreciation for the yellow stuff, and I find myself craving that deep, luxurious corn flavor that can readily be summed up as comforting.
Polenta is a typical Northern Italian dish that we’d have in some form or another just about every time we visited family. Maybe this is what slowly developed my admiration for the meal over the years. Or, perhaps, it was just my ever-developing palette as I was getting older (something I know all too well now with my young son — one week he loves chicken the next week he’s moved on to something better), either way, you’re sure to find a bag of polenta in my pantry at all times.