Oh, my little crock-pot, I owe you a sincere apology. I abused your smaller siblings for art projects involving mean paraffin and cruel crayons while wholly neglecting your culinary talents. You’ve festered in back shelves, closets and dark, dark basements while I hopped around in the kitchen above with saucepans, skillets and stockpots. I’ve pawned off your gifted crock-pot cousins on others willing to take on your lack of ambition and squatty looks.
My reluctance to engage the crock-pot had been based out of skepticism and fear that once used, I might find myself using other things I associate with such a device: elastic pants, “Home Sweet Home” plaques, doilies. Having stumbled upon the humble unit while snooping around our harvest room one afternoon, I thought, well, why not? If I wear elastic pants out here, I’ll just blend in anyway.
I had been sort-of craving polenta but felt too lazy to baby sit it, seeing as I have a real baby that is more fun and doesn’t spit boiling lava at me. Yet. Also, I had always felt there was something wrong with my cornmeal porridge: I always felt like I could feel it expanding in my stomach afterward. Perhaps a long bath in a womb-like atmosphere would provide the proper polenta process, and redeem the crock-pot in my eyes.
Here’s what I did:
Dump some amount of course-ground polenta in the crock-pot. (Doris, you’ll be pleased to know it came from a mill in Odon, IN.) Maybe like a cup. Add four times the amount of water, a generous heave of salt and turn on to low. Or high. I did both, and returned to find the crock-pot frothing at the lid. I turned it down to low, and it seemed happier. Add more water if you tend to forget about such things or if it seems dry.
I think I stirred it one point. Most cookbooks will inform you that you must hover around, stirring gently and soothingly to your porridge. I have never been able to do this without being spat upon by boiling spurts of polenta. So I don’t stir and things get lumpy. Cooking authorities have also informed me that I should be making a slurry of the cornmeal and some amount of water before adding the rest of the liquid to prevent lumps. I have been lump free up to this point and see no reason to change. Advice, anyone?
If you feel fancy, you can use milk, stock, or cream instead of water. I like to scoop it up and pour milk, butter and a little sprinkle of turbinado sugar when I need to eat goopy bowl things. We usually eat this under stews that are tomato based.
You can pour leftovers into a greased pan or plate and fry it up the next morning with sausage and maple syrup. Yes, yes.