Polenta is a smoother variation on the southern corn-based favorite, grits. In researching the dish, I learned that it was and still is considered a peasant dish, which explains nothing of why the polenta tube my grocery store sells is close to $5. Don't buy the polenta tube when it's so easy to make at home, and not at all difficult!
My version of my Northern Italian grandmother's favorite is made with white cornmeal instead of the traditional yellow. Don't think I'm super creative and knowledgeable about various types and colors of cornmeal - I just had white cornmeal on hand from an experimental dish a while back, and figured it needed to be used up.
I did, however, put a twist on this polenta from the traditional recipe, using both Parmigiano Reggiano and a healthy dollop of Chevre (goat cheese), which makes for a velvety smooth dish to sit alongside chicken, veal, beef or fish. I also happen to like green onions in just about anything, polenta included, but I think Grandma may have turned up her nose at their appearance in her beloved polenta.
You will need:
4½ cups whole milk
1 cup (scant) white cornmeal
2 ounces goat cheese (chevre)
2 ounces finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons butter
1 stalk green onion, white and green parts chopped
1 tablespoon garlic powder
Salt and black pepper to taste
Over medium heat, bring the milk to a soft boil, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. Reduce temperature to medium-low and slowly add cornmeal. Whisk constantly until thickened. Add salt and pepper and continue to whisk.
When mixture has thickened to the consistency of mashed potatoes, add butter, cheeses and green onion and whisk until combined/melted. Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Reduce temperature to low/warm until ready to serve.
Leftovers can be refrigerated and when set, cut into chunks, grilled or sauteed in olive oil until crisp on the outside.