I encountered dark polenta a great many years ago when my husband, who was then an advertising whiz, invited me to join him in Valtellina, in northern Lombardy, where he was shooting a television commercial. It is not a popular polenta in Venice, where we have long lived, and it had slipped out of mind until I became acquainted with a woman—the same one who gave me the correct procedure for making the risotto with spinach—who was from Sondrio, in Valtellina. As we chatted about the cooking of her region, she rekindled my recollections of polenta taragna’s deep and distinctive flavor.
If you are willing to stand at the stove and stir the polenta the entire time it cooks, you will obtain the best result in terms of texture, fragrance, and overall flavor. It is nonetheless possible to make very good polenta with hardly any stirring. It will take no less time, but it will free you from the stove for the better part of an hour. Proceed as follows:
Serve the polenta immediately if you want it soft and hot to accompany a runny cheese or a roast or sausages or grilled shrimp or any other dish with which you enjoy loose, warm polenta. If you will use it later grilled, baked, or fried, or in other ways, moisten with cold water a wooden board or steel, marble, or Formica countertop that is at least
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