"These are not actually buns, per se, but more like biscuits, as they are essentially classified as a quick bread, not yeast raised," The TIMES On Cooking columnist explained.
"Polenta is basically cooked cornmeal, so these buns are designed to reflect a sweet version of polenta in a biscuit form. The addition of grappa soaked raisins are a wonderful addition in taste, but also add a complementing visual and texture aspect," he said.
He always has a small amount of grappa to sip when having them.
"Grappa is an acquired taste that has more cynics than lovers, as I have even heard rumours of some cafes in Italy actually use grappa to clean their windows," said Chef Dez.
"My honest advice to you is to try it, but be pre-
pared to hate it. Rum can easily be substituted for the grappa if you prefer.
Italian polenta buns with grappa
Recipe created by Chef Dez - www. chefdez.com
A favourite in Italy, these freshly baked sweet biscuits reminiscent of rich polenta. Grappa is an Italian liqueur made from fermenting grape remnants after pressing them for wine. (This recipe makes 8 biscuits.)
4 tbsp raisins
2 tbsp Italian grappa liqueur (plus more for sipping)
1 cup fine cornmeal
1 cup milk, heated to almost boiling
1 cup corn flour
²/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup cold butter, cut in small pieces cold milk, optional icing sugar
In a small bowl, soak the raisins in the grappa.
Preheat the oven to 425ºF and prepare a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a separate bowl, stir the hot milk and the cornmeal together. It will get very thick as the cornmeal swells and absorbs the milk.
In another bowl combine all of the other dry ingredients together: corn flour, sugar, all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt.
Work the cold butter pieces into this dry mixture with a pastry cutter until the butter pieces are about the size of peas. Do not work the butter in with your hands, as this will melt the butter.
Stir the raisins and grappa mixture into the milk/cornmeal mixture. Then mix this with the dry ingredients and butter mixture until it is just combined - do not over mix. If it is too dry, add a little extra milk. It should resemble a thick muffin batter.
Spoon 8 equal portions onto the prepared baking sheet and bake immediately for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Carefully remove the biscuits from the pan and let cool slightly on a cooling rack. Dust with icing sugar and serve warm with a small shot of grappa, coffee, or espresso.
. More TIMES recipes on pages A25 & A28 and also in our special Family Christmas section published Tuesday, Dec. 4.
Chef Dez is a food columnist and culinary instructor in the Fraser Valley. Visit him at www.chefdez.com.