By Brigit Legere Binns
Photography by Deborah Denker


Originally a peasant dish, polenta is now showing up on the best restaurant menus in the country. Although often accompanied by costly ingredients like white truffles, rare wild mushrooms, and rich cheeses, polenta is in fact well suited to the needs of the home cook, explains Brigit Legere Binns, author of Polenta (Chronicle Books; January 1, 1997; $14.95). with more than forty tempting recipes and lavish photographs by Deborah Denker, Polenta celebrates the ever-popular and versatile crushed grain once known as Italy's "meat of the poor."

Relatively nutritious (it has significant amounts of starches, fats, and carotenes, which are converted by the body into Vitamin A), versatile, nonperishable, and affordable, polenta is the basis for an incredible array of both sweet and savory dishes. Served hard or soft, Binns writes, polenta can be prepared with milk; broth; or wine, garlic, and Parmesan. It can be served as a sandwich, filled and deep-fried; as lasagne; as a crunchy wrapping for a trout; or as a breakfast toast, studded with golden raisins and drizzled with warm maple syrup. Like the potato, she observes, "It is a canvas for the creativity and financial condition of the cook-served with butter and herbs when you are busy or pinching pennies, layered with truffles and porcini on better days."

A "longtime polenta-lover," Binns includes both classic and more innovative recipes in Polenta. She shares her own secrets, including the fact that constant, slavish stirring simply isn't required, and provides answers to such commonly asked questions as: "In the interest of saving time, can I use instant polenta?" "Can you really make polenta in a microwave? Does it save time?" "How do I make polenta without the lumps?"

With recipes for every part of the meal—from breakfast and brunch to first courses, hors d'oeuvres, entrees, sides, and desserts—Polenta includes such mouthwatering dishes as Grilled Polenta Crostini, Sage Polenta Gnocchi, Duck Breasts with Port Sauce and Wild Mushroom Polenta, and Polenta Dolce with Dried Dates and Ricotta. Complete with valuable tips on making perfect polenta everytime and recipes for every occasion, Polenta is a glorious celebration of Italy's beloved golden grain.

"Brigit Legere Binns's book is the instruction manual for polenta. She turns simple ingredients into stunning dishes that will satisfy both the most experienced chef and the beginner cook. It's not often that you find a book which successfully and creatively brings the same ingredient to every meal of the day. It makes one wish man could live on polenta alone!"

—Joachim Splichal, chef/owner of Patina Restaurant, and author of Patina Cookbook: Spuds, Truffles and Wild Gnocchi

"Brigit Binns teaches us how to use polenta to create elegant and tasty dishes with a truly creative flair. Her sure hand and appreciation of big flavors is evident throughout the book as the rustic grain is explored in all its guises from supporting role to center stage. Polenta is truly a joyful celebration of simplicity."

—Evan Kleiman, author of Cucina Fresca and Cucina Rustica

"Brigit Binns's delicious recipes explore, in depth, the many innovative and traditional ways polenta can be prepared. It will make a great addition to any cookbook library."

—Hans Rockenwagner, chef/owner of Rockenwagner restaurant


Brigit Legere Binns is a food writer and recipe consultant based in Venice, California, whose work has appeared in various publications, including Food & Wine. She has collaborated on cookbooks with some of Los Angeles's top chefs, including Joachim Splichal and Hans Rockenwagner, and assisted on three cookbooks in the Williams-Sonoma series. Polenta is Binns's first solo cookbook.

Photographer Deborah Denker specializes in food and product photography. A former resident of New York, she now resides in San Luis Opispo, California. Her work has appeared in various magazines, including Food & Wine, Bon Appetit, and Health.


By Brigit Legere Binns
Photography by Deborah Denker
Price: $14.95, paperback
ISBN: 0-8118-1185-9
Chronicle Books 1997




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