Italian polenta recipes are typical from northern Italy where polenta traditions are very rich and deeply rooted, especially Valtellina's is very famous.
Always been defined as the "dish of the poor" it underlies many of Valtellina's recipes thanks to goodness and simplicity of this staple, in fact it's nothing than a mixture of water and cornmeal (yellow) flour, traditionally cooked in a copper pot.
Contrary to popular belief it's done not only with cornmeal, but it can be prepared with a variety of cereals and even with chestnuts.
The origins of polenta have their roots in antiquity, it was the period when Christopher Columbus returned from America and brought with him a plant hitherto never seen in Europe, the corn or maize.
How To Make Polenta
Colombo said that natives of the Americas used to prepare a sort of compound of maize flour and water, which was then cooked and seasoned with sauces, vegetables, meat or cheese.
The maize plant grew very prosperous in the northern Italy, and for this great abundance together with the low cost became the favorite food of poor people, especially the farmers who cultivated it, made many of the polenta recipes known today.
As polenta tastes very "neutral", easily adaptable, farmers found many variations to combine this food (very nutritious and inexpensive), with other existing Italian dishes, and indeed over time took the place of expensive bread.