April 20, 2012


     There is a restaurant on NE 28th Ave in Portland called Tabla. I lived here for 5 1/2 years, and walked by the place innumerable times, before stepping in the door. It is a higher-end, small plate place--the sort that is usually out of our price range. You know, the kind of restaurant where the more you are paying, the less food you actually get.

     But, we were celebrating and so we decided to give it a try. It was definitely pricey, but it was also an extraordinary and memorable meal. The food was worth every penny and the service was among the best I've ever had. I don't think we will go back often, but I certainly hope we go back. I especially liked the creamy polenta that was the foundation of my meal. I had another delicious bit of polenta at Tasty and Sons a few months before, so now I was really sold on the idea.

     See, I used to hate polenta. A church in the small town where I grew up used to do these fundraiser dinners where they sold polenta, and I just did not like the stuff-- no matter how much my mom tried to make me eat it. It was just too mushy and bland. THIS stuff, on the other hand was deeply satisfying and savory, and a wonderful base for the rest of the dish.

     I am officially a polenta convert. Since Tabla, I've started making polenta at home. It is sold very inexpensively in many bulk food sections. Polenta is easy to make and goes with all kinds of meat and vegetable dishes. It's nice to have something a little different to swap for the usual rice or potatoes.
  • 4 cups of chicken or vegetable broth, additional as needed
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 cup polenta
  • 1 to 4 tablespoons butter 
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  1. In a medium saucepan, bring broth and a pinch of salt to a boil over high heat. Whisk or stir in polenta, until completely incorporated.
  2. Turn down the heat to low. Add the butter and cook the polenta, stirring occasionally, for up to 30 minutes (cooking time will depend on the type of polenta you are using). When it's ready, the polenta will be soft and the broth should be fully absorbed. If you want a thinner consistency, add a little more broth.
  3. Add grated Parmesan, adjust salt and add pepper to taste. 
  4. Serve immediately.

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