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Polenta slice with Frigga in Friuli

Polenta (German Plente ( f ) , in Tyrol also Plent , in Carinthia and Styria also called Plentn and sometimes confused with Sterz ) is a solid porridge usually made from corn semolina , which is found in northern Italy , Provence , Spain and parts of the Switzerland , Austria , Romania and Moldova as well as the Balkans are part of the regional culinary tradition.


As puls or pulmentum , a forerunner of polenta belonged to the main foodstuffs of the cuisine of ancient Rome , initially made from millet , spelled or chickpea flour, later from barley or a special type of wheat , far . After 1650, corn, first brought to Europe by Christopher Columbus, began to become popular in Italian cuisine as granoturco , "Turkish grain". In the 17th century, corn porridge was a common "poor people's meal" from Spain to southern Russia. In northern Italy, polenta has remained so popular that the southern Italians call their northern compatriots a bit derogatory polentoni (= polenta eater ). In Veneto there is a regional specialty called “Polenta bianca”, a white polenta made from peeled corn kernels of a lighter variety.

Pellagra produced a one-sided diet with polenta because the maize in Europe was not boiled in lime water ( nixtamalization ) , as is customary with the Native Americans, and therefore the vital vitamin niacin was missing.


Historical polenta preparation in a cast-iron polenta kettle
A classic polenta kettle

The traditional preparation of polenta is simple but exhausting. After slowly stirring corn grits into boiling salted water, the heavy mass must be stirred continuously for up to an hour so that it has a smooth consistency and does not burn too much. If polenta is prepared in large pots for several days, a desired brown crust forms on the wall of the pot. The finished polenta is placed on a moistened wooden board, flattened a little and cut into thick slices with a string. It can also be cooled first and then sliced to fry in butter or on the grill . A sweet variant has also found widespread use as poor people's food. The preparation is simple and consists in heating the porridge made of corn grits similar to rice pudding or semolina porridge . Which is served on the plate polenta with granulated sugar sprinkled which is fast liquid.

In addition to the simple corn grits, there is also pre-cooked polenta semolina, which shortens the preparation to a few minutes.

Polenta is regionally made from buckwheat or chestnut flour. In Italy this is called polenta nera ("black polenta"), in southern Austria also Schwarzplent . The Heidensterz (from "heather grain" = buckwheat), also made from buckwheat semolina, is, however, not a porridge, but a dry, crumbly "Sterz".

Polenta is traditionally served simply: as a porridge with cold milk poured over it, with melted butter and Parmesan or like pasta with a sauce . But it also serves - comparable to dumplings - as an accompaniment to braised, hearty meat dishes, ragouts , goulash and stews .

Similar dishes

  • Bramata - a variant with coarse corn grits , known in Graubünden , Switzerland
  • Grits - the variant in the southern states of the USA
  • Kachamak (Serbian and Bulgarian Kačamak , Cyrillic качамак , Albanian Kaçamak ) - a Bulgarian, Serbian and Albanian variant
  • Mămăliga - a Romanian variant
  • Puliszka - the Hungarian preparation
  • Ugali - an East African variant
  • Paluckes (Transylvania)
  • Riebel - a variant in Austria, Ribel in Switzerland and Liechtenstein


The word polenta goes back to the Latin “polenta” (barley barley) and is related to pollen as a name for pollen (from Latin pollen: fine flour, dust). The word did not primarily refer to a type of grain, but to the fine-grained consistency of a substance. In the dialect form "polenda" it is also used in Tuscany for porridge made from other types of grain. Polenta is also related to the German word “powder” (from the Latin pulvis: dust).

Web links

Commons : Polenta  - Collection of Images
Wiktionary: Polenta  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations