Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Oatmeal, Polenta Style

I have been trying for some time to come up with a savory use for oatmeal besides a filler in bread, meatloaf and haggis. I have been stirring butter, milk and spices into my morning oatmeal with limited success. Baking spices just seem to work better with sugar or in a curry.

This morning I mixed a scant 1/4 cup of shredded mozzarella into my mush. It was beginning to take on a polenta vibe. In his book Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany, Bill Buford reminds us that there was polenta before Columbus and therefore pre-corn. It was most likely made with barley and to paraphrase Buford, who tried it in his kitchen, was like trying to find something good to eat in a bowl of dirt.

On our familiar corn-mush polenta we often see red sauce and cheese. So I went there. Onto my oatmeal went a dollop of garlicky pizza sauce, some grated Parmigiano Reggiano, Italian herbs and red pepper flakes.

The result? Really not bad at all! Nice ratio of carbs to fat, satisfying texture and flavor, I felt like I had eaten something. I could see trying to work this into a dinner sidedish; pre-Columbian polenta with post-Columbian sauce.


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