Polenta is so simple to make and only requires two ingredients: masa harina (or cornmeal if you don't have the masa harina) and water. I like to substitute masa harina in most recipes calling for cornmeal. I prefer masa harina over cornmeal because masa harina has been soaked in slaked lime. "And your point is...?" you may be wondering. Well, I think Sally Fallon can explain better than I. Here is an excerpt from her book, Nourishing Traditions:
Traditional recipes call for soaking corn or corn flour in lime water. This releases nicotinamide (vitamin B3), which otherwise remains bound up in the grain. Soaking also improves the amino acid quality of proteins in the germ. If you use corn products often, the simple precaution of soaking corn flour in lime water will help avoid the vitamin B3 deficiency disease pellagra with its cruel symptoms of sore skin, fatigue and mental disorders.
In addition to Sally's findings, soaking corn in lime also reduces phytic acid, which prevents the body from absorbing nutrients, and reduces toxins found in corn. You can find masa harina in your grocery store (even I can find it in central Wisconsin), usually in the ethnic foods aisle or perhaps near the cornmeal in the baking aisle.
Fried polenta is a great way to use masa harina, and it is a nice change from the usual breakfast menu of pancakes or waffles. It gets crispy on the outside, but stays creamy on the inside, and is scrumptious with a little butter and maple syrup.
This recipe will require a little advanced preparation--you will need to prepare the polenta the night before. But no worries, it will only take around 15 or 20 minutes the night before.
1 cup water
1 cup masa harina or cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
2-3/4 cups water
1/4 cup coconut oil, butter, or bacon grease for frying (or a mixture of any of those fats)
1. Combine 1 cup water, masa harina, and salt; mix well.
2. Bring 2-3/4 cups water to a boil. Add masa harina mixture, whisking to remove any lumps. Reduce heat to low and cook until the mixture is very thick--about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
3. Pour the polenta into a loaf pan. Allow to cool, and then cover and refrigerate overnight.
4. In the morning, heat the frying fat/s over medium heat in a large skillet (cast iron works great). Meanwhile, cut the polenta into 1/2" thick slices.
5. Once the fats are hot, add the polenta slices to the pan in batches (I could fit five slices at a time in mine). Fry for 10 minutes on each side. Remove slices to a cloth or paper towel to drain; keep them warm in an oven set on its lowest temperature while you fry the remaining batches.
6. Serve the fried polenta with butter and maple syrup.
P.S. Chickens really like leftover polenta.