I've come to believe that sometimes the idea of a particular food is far better than the reality of it. Such was my experience yesterday, when I attempted to make polenta for the very first time. I've had polenta only a few times, and I can't say I've ever been smitten with it. But a couple of months ago I saved a photo and recipe for leg of lamb served over polenta from Food and Wine magazine -- it looked so delicious -- and since I was making a grilled butterflied leg of lamb, I decided it was time to try the polenta. Here's a link to the recipe: http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/le...
Maybe it was the recipe that left me disappointed. Since there were just two of us, I halved the recipe in the magazine. Maybe you just can't do that with polenta, but since I've done it quite successfully with risotto, I thought it'd be safe to do it with polenta, too.
I used imported (Moretti brand), coarse (not instant) polenta. The original recipe called for 1 cup of polenta, 4 cups of water, 1 cup of milk, 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, 1/2 cup of mascarpone and 1 cup of freshly grated Pecorino Romano. I measured half of each of those ingredients precisely and followed the instructions. What resulted was a rubber-like, gloppy, tasteless concoction, flavored only by the Pecorino Romano, that was anything but "creamy and tender" as described in the recipe. Maybe I overcooked it. Maybe halving the recipe required an adjustment to the cooking time. I didn't cook it for as long as the recipe indicated (which was about 45 minutes in total) because it looked like it was drying out.
So while the IDEA of polenta still intrigues me, I think I need to be sold on its virtues. When it's done right, is it really delicious? How do you make it interesting and flavorful? Is it worth trying again, or should I just toss the rest of the contents of the package of polenta? Thanks for your advice.