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Preparation info

  • 4 to 6

    • Difficulty


Appears in

New York Times Menu Cookbook

New York Times Menu Cookbook

By Craig Claiborne

Published 1966

  • About

Cornmeal is more widely revered in the American South and Southwest than in other sections of the country, but one exception is the famed scrapple, or pawn, of the Pennsylvania Dutch. Italians, particularly those of southern Italy, have a keen appetite for polenta, which is made of cornmeal mush and served with cheese, tomato sauce, or other savory adornments.


  • 4 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 2 cups Tomato Sauce III


  1. Bring two and one-half cups of the water to a boil in the top of a double boiler. Stir in the salt.

  2. Mix the cornmeal with the remaining water and add it, stirring, to the boiling water. Cook, stirring, until mixture thickens.

  3. Place the mixture over boiling water and cook, covered, for forty-five minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour the mush into a lightly greased pan (9 × 9 × 2 inches). Spread mush quickly with a spatula. Cool, then chill thoroughly.

  4. Using a sharp knife, cut the chilled polenta into diamonds or, using a small cookie cutter, cut polenta into rounds.

  5. Preheat oven to moderate (375°F.).

  6. Dip the polenta shapes into the beaten egg and then coat with grated cheese.

  7. Arrange the pieces in a shallow baking dish, overlapping the pieces if desired. Drizzle the butter over the polenta and bake for fifteen to twenty minutes, or until very hot and lightly browned. Serve with hot tomato sauce.

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