Polenta is cornmeal porridge and to first tastes is about as attractive as it sounds (second and third tastes too). It has virtually no nutritive value, in fact people from poor polenta-eating areas, mainly in the Alps, suffered from various deficiency diseases due to their dependence on the stuff. Not only this, but it requires 45 minutes’ standing and stirring to cook – no wonder the diehards of the food world love it; it’s tedious to prepare and tastes like grainy wallpaper paste.
However, bowing to peer pressure, there are ways of making the stuff more than edible. Firstly, the Italians make it with virtually no additions, a little butter and a little cheese perhaps, but they talk about the purity of taste and texture. These are precisely the qualities I strive to hide, so use plenty of butter and lots of grated Parmesan, please. Secondly, the purists also insist that only raw polenta will do; bullshit, buy the instant stuff and follow the packet instructions. Thirdly, the only good polenta is set polenta; a flaccid mound of wet polenta on your plate is something to avoid. Let your polenta set like concrete, then slice and grill, the charring from this process hiding its more unpleasant attributes.