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Types of polenta

Until recently, I thought I did not like polenta--I don't enjoy the grainy texture. But I tasted some the other day that was smooth and creamy, more white than yellow. I have a feeling this polenta was milled more finely than I'm used to seeing. Is there a more finely ground polenta you can buy? If so, what name should I look out for? Thanks!

asked by Cristina Sciarra about 2 years ago
7 answers 1433 views
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added about 2 years ago

Hi Cristinasciarra, Yes, you can make White Corn Polenta, "Bramata Bianca" from Moretti; this kind is very fine milled and has a creamy texture compared to coarse yellow cornmeal. I buy mine from Market Hall Foods, (based out of Oakland CA) which has an online store. Hope this helps!

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HalfPint is a trusted home cook.

added about 2 years ago

Anson Mills carries a fine white polenta as well as the yellow variety.

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added about 2 years ago

Finely ground cornmeal (semolina texture) is called fioretto in Italy, while bramata refers to the coarser type (grit-like); and white polenta of either coarseness usually has a more delicate flavour as well as texture.
Like you, I prefer my polenta silky instead of gritty; but I still reserve fioretto for baking, because it has this really annoying habit of clumping up on me when trying to make polenta (maybe it needs a different cooking approach?). Instead I stick with traditions and use bramata (yellow for with rich tomato and/or red wine based (meat) braises and white with fish or seafood) and cook it very low-and-slowly with lots of water (a ratio of up to 10:1, by weight), which usually turns out nicely. Substituting some of the water with milk will make it even creamier.
Have fun experimenting, I hope you find your perfect polenta!

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added about 2 years ago

You can definitely use finer ground polenta, either white or yellow, to eliminate the graininess but you can also achieve a silky texture with the standard issue polenta with low and slow cooking in lots and lots of water. My Italian family always made polenta in a pasta pot with a ton of water and never cooked it for less than an hour (and often closer to two - we just go until the water cooks out and it thickens properly) to achieve that silky texture that to my mind at least, is just what properly cooked polenta should be like. One way to speed up the process a bit is to add just a pinch of baking soda to the water - it really helps soften the grit and speeds up the cooking so you can use less water.
And I'm with you - I always think that grainy polenta that is so common in American restaurants is actually a sign the chef doesn't know what's he doing! But I'm particular about my polenta.

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QueenSashy is a trusted home cook.

added about 2 years ago

I believe that the mellower taste of the finely ground cornmeal is because in the process of fine grinding most of the hull and germ is removed, which reduces the intensity of the flavor. Most of the lower priced supermarket brand corn flours are ground using commercial metal grinders, which will produce less intense cornmeal than stone grinding, maybe it is worth experimenting with these?

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added about 2 years ago

I'm always amazed at what I learn reading the questions others think to ask here. I too have never liked polenta but I'm inspired to play around with it some more now!

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AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

added about 2 years ago

These answers are all so interesting, and helpful. I find that the method recommended by Judy Rodgers - to cover the pot tightly after the cornmeal has absorbed most of the liquid, and then let it sit covered for 45 minutes to an hour, sitting over the hot water in the double boiler -- works really well. The polenta continues to absorb the moisture, as the steam plumps up and thoroughly softens the cornmeal. I just made some last night, in fact, topped with a Tuscan beef stew. Utterly delicious. ;o) P.S. I use ricotta whey as the cooking liquid whenever I can, as it gives a subtle, ethereal dairy element.