The term polenta, as with grits, is commonly used for both the uncooked milled corn itself and the prepared dish. Once regarded largely as “peasant food” by Italians, it’s now found on fine dining menus around the world, according to Great Italian Chefs. Polenta is creamy, starchy, and has a subtle palette that make it perfect for flavorful dishes like Polenta and Meat Sauce (via Food & Wine) or Vegan Creamy Polenta and Red Wine Mushrooms (via Rabbit and Wolves). Polenta is a natural accompaniment for stews and saucy dishes because it soaks up every bit of delicious sauce, gravy, or juice.
As opposed to dent corn, which is used to make grits, says Taste of Home, authentic Italian polenta must start with flint corn. Also known as “calico” or “Indian” corn (via Wide Open Eats), this type is commonly seen in fall decorations, and is used, according to Kitchn, because it’s better at retaining its texture when cooked. This helps explain the slight difference in texture between the two.
In addition to the recipes linked above, a classic and immensely satisfying way to serve polenta is to add cheese and serve it as a side dish. Why not try a delicious bowl of cheesy, buttery polenta the next time you’re craving comfort food?