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Catholic Recipe: Polenta


  • 4 cups water, divided
  • 1 cup yellow corn meal
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 pound grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • Details

  • Serves: 6
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Difficulty: • •
  • Cost: $$$$
  • For Ages: 6+
  • Origin: Italy

The late Pope John XXIII was deeply loved and venerated by every Catholic, and because of his unique qualities of soul, he was also loved by men of good will everywhere, whatever race or creed. His love for all mankind, his fervent work for religious amity and world peace, and his warm humanity made his loss a great grief in every corner of the globe.

Before his death, Vatican sources sent us one of Pope John's favorite recipes for inclusion in this book. This dish, Polenta, is popular in the little village of Bergamo, where Pope John was born, and he never lost his taste for it. Polenta can be eaten by itself on a meatless day or served with meat on other occasions.

Polenta is a mush made from cornmeal, a recipe from northern Italy. It is either eaten warm with a little butter or cooled until firm, cut into wedges and fried.

This is a particularly delicious version of Polenta, because of the Parmesan cheese and butter that are added to the basic cornmeal porridge. If any is left over, it can be chilled, sliced, dusted with flour, and fried for another meal. Served as a first course or side dish, even for breakfast.


Heat 3 cups water to boiling. Combine corn meal, remaining 1 cup cold water, and salt; pour into boiling water, stirring constantly. Cook until thickened, stirring frequently. Cover; cook over low heat 10 minutes longer. Remove from heat. Stir in cheese, butter, and pepper; stir until cheese and butter are melted. Serve hot.

Recipe Source: Cook's Blessings, The by Demetria Taylor, Random House, New York, 1965
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