Ground Polenta is from non-GMO, Rhode Island White Cap Flint corn, grown at Norm Lehne Garden & Orchards (Roseburg) and stone ground in small batches by a local Roseburg miller. Much fresher than store-bought, from the recent 2021 harvest. Can be stored in the pantry, but for long-term storage (over 6 months), freezing is recommended. Two pounds is approximately six cups.
Bred by the Narragansett tribe of Rhode Island, this native corn variety has maintained local popularity for over 300 years. Rhode Island White Cap Flint is traditionally used for making “Johnny Cakes”, the thin cornmeal pancakes often served with butter and maple syrup. It has been kept from extinction thanks to a small group of Rhode Island enthusiasts who recognize the historical importance of the variety and seek to preserve it for future generations.
Polenta originated in Northern Italy as peasant food, and is typically made with coarse yellow (or sometimes white) cornmeal. Polenta tastes like a hearty corn porridge. The cooked grains should taste sweet and cooked, not bitter and raw. The better the cornmeal you start with, the better your polenta will taste.
Cooking polenta is not complicated. Bring salted water to a boil, slowly whisk in the polenta, and then cook for around 45 minutes, stirring the polenta every 10 minutes. This long cooking time and stirring will allow the grains to swell and become cooked. Polenta is often served as a soft, thick mush, which may be topped with sauce or cheese. Cooked polenta can also be cooled until firm and cut into wedges, rounds, or other shapes, which can be baked, grilled, or pan-fried.