Cooking with polenta

1. Creamy polenta

Bring two litres of water to the boil, dissolve 20 grams of rock salt and add one tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil. Using a whisk, slowly add 1½ kilograms of yellow polenta and stir regularly for 45 minutes. A copper pan is recommended. Serve on a wooden board and top with a stew or braise for a hearty communal meal.

2. Polenta chips

Make polenta (as above) and stir in 200 grams grated grana padano cheese. Turn onto a large, greased baking tray. Level polenta, cover with baking paper pressing firmly. Rest overnight. Cut into pieces. Deep-fry in olive oil at 170C until golden.

3. Polenta Taragna

Boil two litres water. Dissolve 20 grams rock salt and gradually add one kilogram polenta, then 400 grams buckwheat flour. Whisk over a medium heat for 40 minutes, stirring often. Melt 150 grams of butter with four sage leaves. Cube 100 grams each of taleggio and gorgonzola dolce cheeses, and 400 grams fontina cheese. Stir the cheese and melted butter into the polenta. Serve.

4. Baked polenta gnocchi with bechamel sauce

Make bechamel sauce using one litre milk, 100 grams butter, one whole grated fresh nutmeg, 12 grams fine salt and 10 grams plain flour. Set aside. Make some creamy polenta and turn onto a large surface. Add water to prevent stickiness and flatten with a rolling pin until three centimetres thick. Cut with a round pasta cutter. Brush each gnocchi with melted butter and layer in a baking dish. Cover with the sauce and sprinkle with grated grana padano cheese. Bake at 200C for 20 minutes or until golden.

5. Breakfast

Try a cold leftover slab of polenta topped with jam, or grill the polenta as an alternative to toast.

According to Giovanni Bondioli, head chef, The Mess Hall, 51 Bourke Street, Melbourne.

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