16 oz/454 grams - White Polenta
A phenomenal organic cornmeal that develops a velvety-smooth texture when cooked. It's from the Mulino Marino - Marino's Mill - in Italy's Piemonte region, an area with a 300-year history of milling corn.
A key distinction between Marino's polenta and commercially produced products is that at the mill, they leave in the germ. The germ holds nutrients and also the corn's natural oil, enhancing both nutrition and flavor.
White cornmeal may be a bit of a novelty item to most Americans, but the Italians have been growing and eating it since the 1500s. White cornmeal is also known as Friulana, named for the countryside where it's particularly popular.
Mild in flavor and delicate in texture, Mulino Marino's white corn polenta is an unusual alternative to yellow corn polentas. Coarsely ground, it is still robust enough to stand up to an entree of fish or poultry. Or bake it, cut it into triangles, grill or sauté it, and serve with grilled sea scallops and braised endive.
Serve it hot, with just a little gorgonzola or Parmigiano-Reggiano stirred in - the ultimate comfort food. It's also a perfect accompaniment to sautéed greens or other veggies. It's great with ratatouille, or as a serving companion to braised short ribs or lamb shanks.
Polenta works for breakfast too - It's divine with honey and milk or mascarpone and butter. Try it with fresh berries or jam, and start your day in sheer bliss.
About the Producer
Marino's mill honors the flour. Located in the enchantingly hilly region around Alba, an area known for viticulture, Flavio, Ferdinando, Federico, Fulvio, Fausto, Filiberto, Francesco, and Felice, the members of the Marino Family, are all devoted to the running of the millstones that have been turning since the first millennium AD.
Marino says that confectioners request the meal produced only when corn is stone-ground. He's profited from a small, select trend away from industrial production, and clients have responded well to his top-notch products.
Delighted by the perfume of germ, bran and fine bran, cooks and bakers have started to reconsider old, traditional recipes. To satisfy the demand, the mill purchased two more millstones in 1970. Two precious grindstones from Ferté-Sous-Jouarre came from the old Bona mill that had long since ceased its activity. Felice convinced the authorities that the best use of these stones was not in a museum but in a working mill, where they could satisfy the demand of future generations. Their supply of grindstones grew to eight.
The Artisan's Story
When he was 20 years old, Felice Marino, the son of a farming and baking family, carried sacks of wheat on his shoulders to the mill run by Baldovino Settimio. There he attended the grinding. The old miller did not hesitate to teach him the tricks required to obtain the best flour. Marino had been interested in the mill ever since he was a boy, and his passion grew, especially after his sister married a miller of the Langhe from Mango.
He fell in love with the trade, and in 1955, when the old miller Baldovino - already tried by the floods of 1926 and 1948 - planned to retire, Marino purchased the mill. The mill then had three hydraulically driven millstones at its disposal, so he continued an age-old, ingenious tradition: the almost weekly hammering of the big, circular stones, roughening the stones at the center and smoothing them progressively towards the edge according to the type of flour to grind and thus avoid "burning the corn."
A Little History
The Roman agricultural village of the Belbo Valley, along the junction Asti-Savona, was assigned to the Ninth Region of the Roman Empire, named Liguria by the Emperor Augustus. Records have been found from 1001 AD that mention the town of Cossano Belbo. At the timethe town was called Coxani, consisting of "cox" (rock) and "sana" (sound), Coxani, the sound rock. The village rose on top of a spur that was dominated by a castle whose walls sheltered the existing stone mill.
The castle was destroyed in1275 and reconstructed two years later. During the turbulent wars of 1553, the French marshall Brissac Charles de Cossé transformed it into a fortress in order to counter the attack of the Spanish army. After the final victory Brissac was named gover of Piemonte. Today, what remains of the antique village of Coxani are some parts of the boundary wall and of the fortress with the mill and the old silo. The oldest structures of the mill show the same architectural features as the walls of the castle.
The local people call the maize grown in the area the "Ottofile" maize, the "King's" maize, because with this sweet corn ground in Pollenzo (a village near Bra in the province of Cuneo), Bela Rosin prepared polenta for King Victor Emanuel when he came to visit her.