Popcorn is one type of flint corn -- the kind of corn used in creating polenta. While you can grind unpopped popcorn kernels to create polenta, this may be more work than finding ground polenta meal in your local supermarket and it requires specialized equipment.
Polenta vs. Corn Meal
Polenta is a type of corn meal. Most polenta marketed as such comes from Italy; however, you can use domestic corn meal in lieu of Italian polenta and you can grind your own. Both polenta and corn meal come in coarse and fine grinds; your recipe will suggest which type to use. Substitute your own corn meal for polenta in a 1-to-1 amount.
Grinding Popcorn for Polenta
If you have a strong blender, an electric grain mill or a hand-crank grain mill, you can grind popcorn kernels into a coarse polenta meal. It takes five minutes to grind 1 pound of corn into polenta using a hand crank grain mill, according to Oscar and Karen Will, authors of ""Plowing with Pigs: And Other Creative, Low-Budget Homesteading Solutions." A standard blender lacks a powerful enough motor to process popcorn into polenta meal, so do not try this unless your blender is specifically marketed as heavy duty or commercial quality. Once you have ground or milled your kernels, sift to remove any large pieces that weren't ground.
Whether you lack proper equipment or time, there are easier ways to find polenta. Since polenta is a type of cornmeal, it may be challenging to figure out exactly what kind of cornmeal to buy. Look for coarse or fine polenta meal at a natural foods store or Italian specialty store. Stone-ground Italian polenta is considered the finest, notes Italian cookbook author Sophie Bainbridge.
To cook, bring water and salt to boil in a deep saucepan. Pour the polenta or corn meal into the boiling water, stirring constantly. Continue to stir for 30 seconds as you turn the water to low. Cook the polenta, uncovered, for approximately 40 minutes. Stir every few minutes to prevent it from sticking. The polenta is done when it sticks to the spoon in clumps. Eat it hot and mushy, or cool the polenta into a thick sort of cake, which you can grill or broil.
- "Plowing with Pigs: And Other Creative, Low-Budget Homesteading Solutions"; Oscar H. Will, III and Karen K. Will
- Mother Earth News: Uncommon Corn
- "Homegrown Whole Grains: Grow, Harvest, and Cook Wheat, Barley, Oats, Rice, Corn and More"; Sarah Pitzer
- "Simply Italian"; Sophie Bainbridge
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images