Though rice and pasta are appreciated in Friuli, polente (polenta) is the basic starch; Friulians are even sometimes called polentoni.
- 1 tbsp. coarse salt
- 7 cups water
- 1 2⁄3 cups coarse yellow cornmeal
- 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper
Put coarse salt into water in a heavy medium pot. Stir in yellow cornmeal. (Adding cornmeal to cold water helps keep the polente free of lumps.)
Bring water to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to low and continue cooking, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until polente pulls away from the sides of the pot, 30-40 minutes. Stir in extra-virgin olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Polente may be served immediately or cooled slightly, then poured into a shallow, lightly oiled baking dish and allowed to set. Once set, cut polente into rectangular slices about 3'' x 4''. Warm slices briefly in the oven before serving, or grill them briefly on a medium-hot grill (just enough to leave grill marks).