Polenta made from Floriani red flint corn is a whole-grain cornmeal with unforgettable flavor. Excellent on its own, it’s also a wonderful accompaniment to roasted vegetables, braised lamb, or served simply with a fried egg and chile flakes.
This rare, open-pollinated heirloom corn variety hails from the Italian Alps and was bred for qualities that make great polenta. While the hulls are red, the meal is a deep yellow with a hint of pink and has a rich, distinct taste and texture.
The high ratio of water to corn in this recipe and the long, slow cooking followed by a period of resting when the meal swells and softens results in great body and wonderful texture.
Red Flint Corn Polenta
3 quarts cold water, plus more as needed
4 tsp salt, or more to taste
2 cups red flint polenta
Optional: Extra-virgin olive oil, butter, Parmigiano-Reggiano, or mascarpone
Bring the salted water to a simmer in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over high heat. Whisk in the polenta, then stir until the water returns to a simmer. Reduce the heat and cook uncovered for 2 hours, stirring as needed until thick. If the polenta becomes stiff, add a trickle of water and continue cooking.
The secret to cooking polenta this way is in the long slow heat and the generous amount of water used. Don’t worry too much about salt at this point as you’re adding additional water. You can taste and salt the final product just before serving.
Once the polenta grains have absorbed all water and the porridge is thick and creamy, transfer it to a double boiler, cover tightly, and set over simmering water, letting it rest for an hour or more. Taste tand add additional salt if needed. Serve by the spoonful in warmed bowls, and top with extra-virgin olive oil, a lump of butter, freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, or a spoonful of marscapone.