Roasted White Polenta
An authentic Italian food-way: corn roasted on a fireplace, then milled. I use a brick pizza oven to roast the corn and this creates a flavor that is deliciously hard to describe. The aroma is nutty with distinct peanut butter overtones. the flavor is robust with hints of popcorn. As a bonus the roasting process also increases nutrition.
Click here for an easy polenta recipe.
Let's discuss polenta. Polenta predates corn's arrival in Italy. Before corn (Zea mays) was imported from the American continent to Europe, Europeans were making porridge out of a variety of grains and legumes. Polenta is Roman in origin. Buckwheat, farro (ancient wheat) spelt, and chickpeas were all foods used to make polenta. The name given to this dish of mush when it was prepared in the place we today call Italy was "polenta." Polenta is referred to by other names by other European cultures: In Romania it is called mamaliga, in France it is called l'escatoun.
Today it is not specified whether polenta is milled from field corn, it is assumed that it is, although some mills are still producing buckwheat and other varieties polenta.
To summarize: polenta is a porridge made (generally) from corn. It is often finished with cheese. It could be fairly stated that polenta is Italian grits. If you were to serve grits to an Italian person, the would probably say, "oh, polenta."