Biancoperla Stone Ground White Corn Polenta
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Biancoperla Stone Ground White Corn Polenta - 1.1 pounds - Veneto, Italy

To the north of Venice, about an hour’s drive, is Treviso, situated in the Veneto region, known for its water rich and fertile land.

It is here that the “authentic, original” Italian sparklng wine Prosecco, was born. The area is also well know for its Radicchio rosso di Treviso, or red radicchio, a variety of chicory. With its long leaves of the late harvest, it is required to have two frosts before harvest to produce a softening of the bitter flavors.

Less well known, but coming from the same middle plain, is the farina di mais, corn flour. Today, most corn flour comes from yellow corn, but in Veneto, there grows a local variety with a long cob, with a tapered shape, which produces a bright white kernel. Named Biancoperla, it has been preserved by local farmers passing “seeds” on for generations.

This open pollinated or self pollinating variety produces a lower yield at harvest. This prized white corn is grown to make polenta, one of the regions most important and historical dishes.

Polenta, a classic “porridge” made by boiling cornmeal/flour into a soup or thicker mix. Eaten right away, baked, fried and grilled it is a wonderful base for flavors or as the perfect accompaniment to proteins from the sea.

It's a great time to pull out your Marcella Hazan's cookbooks for these wonderful recipes.

From More Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan; Torta Casereccia di Polenta - Polenta Shortcake with dried fruit and pine nuts pg 433

From Marcella Cecina by Marcella Hazan; Cornmeal and Buckwheat Flour Polenta pg 233

Trento-Style Buckwheat and Cornmeal Polenta with Melted butter and Anchovies pg 235


Slow Food Predidio food

Stone ground, white corn polenta, made from the rare, heirloom variety of corn called Biancoperla. In the 1950s, the more productive, hardier hybrid corn varieties replaced the open-pollinated varieties like Biancoperla, which where more difficult to grow, and have lower yields.

However, some farmers continued to cultivate the white corn and passed down the seeds from generation to generation. But Biancoperla is also known for its delicate flavor.

While other more high-yielding varieties of corn for polenta came to be cultivated in this and other parts of Italy, a few careful farmers in Veneto region continued to grow this prized corn varietal; Biancoperla, which has tapering, elongated cobs with large, bright, pearly-white kernels.

This variety was most widely planted during the second half of the 19th century, and even in 1950 it still covered over 50,000 hectares of land.

 

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