Semoulina and Polenta a L’Italienne (Good)

To serve instead of Maccaroni


Baked ½ hour, gentle oven.


  • new milk (or milk mixed with cream), 1 quart
  • salt, large ½ teaspoon
  • semoulina, 5 oz.: 10 minutes.
  • Grated cheese, 6 to 8 oz
  • cayenne, ½ teaspoon
  • mace, 1 small teaspoonful
  • butter, 2 to 3 oz.


Throw into a quart of milk, when it is fast boiling, half a teaspoonful of salt, and then shake lightly into it five ounces of the beet semoulina; stir the milk as this is added, and continue to do so from eight to ten minutes, letting the mixture boil gently during the time. It should be very thick, and great care must be taken to prevent its sticking to the saucepan, which should be placed over a clear fire on a bar or trivet, but not upon the coals. Pour the semoulina, when it is done, into a basin, or a plain mould which it will not fill by an inch or two, and let it remain some hours in a cool place, that it may become perfectly cold; it will then turn out quite solid, and like a pudding in appearance. Cut it with a large, sharp carving-knife, or a bit of thin wire, into half-inch slices; wash the basin into which it was poured at first, and butter it well; grate from six to eight ounces of good cheese (Parmesan, or any other), and mix with it a half-teaspoonful of cayenne, and twice as much pounded mace; clarify from two to three ounces of fresh butter, and put a small quantity into the basin, strew in a little of the cheese, and then lay in the first slice of the semoulina, on this put a thick layer of the cheese, moisten it with some drops of butter, and place the second slice upon it; then more cheese and butter, and continue thus until all the semoulina is replaced in the basin; put plenty of cheese upon the top, add the remainder of the clarified butter, and bake the mixture for about half an hour in a gentle oven. It should be of a fine golden colour when served. Turn it carefully into a dish, and send it instantly to table. a little rich brown gravy poured round might, to some tastes, improve it, but it is excellent without, and may be substituted for maccaroni, which it much resembles in flavour. It may be enriched by adding butter to the milk, or by mixing with it a portion of cream; and it may be browned in a Dutch oven, when no other is in use.

In Italy the flour of Indian corn, which is much grown there, and eaten by all ranks of people, is used for this dish; but the semoulina is perhaps rather better suited to English taste and habits of diet, from being somewhat lighter and more delicate. The maize-flour imported from Italy is sold at the foreign warehouses here under the name of polenta,* though that properly speaking is, we believe, a boiled or stewed preparation of it, which forms the most common food of the poorer classes of the inhabitants of many of the Italian states. It seems to us superior in quality to the Indian corn flour grown in America.

Obs.—A plain mould can be used instead of the basin.

For Various Modes of Dressing Eggs

* This was vended at a sufficiently high price in this country before the maize meal was so largely imported here from America.