The Angu from Minas Gerais (Angú à Mineira)

The Angu can be described by being similar to a Brazilian polenta; it is a typical dish from Brazilian cuisine that is prepared with cornmeal, water, salt and frequently some kind of garnish. In the regions where there the influence of Italian immigrants was felt more, the Angu was still known as polenta.

The name “Angu” itself comes from a word from a west african language, where this word referred to a unseasoned yam porridge. The Portuguese began spreading corn cultivation on the African coast in the 16th century, starting in the Congo basin; so this is another example of a dish that was carried over by african slaves. The word “Angu” was initially used in Brazil for porridges made with either cassava or cornmeal interchangeably, which were accompanied by beef or pork; and as time passed the word “Angu” came to designate only the porridge made with cornmeal, while the other popular brazilian porridge, made with cassava flour, became referred to only as pirão.


Angu on a plate

Recipe for Angu


* 1 and 1/2 cups Cornmeal (half the amount of water in volume)
* 3 cups water for cooking (Double water volume compared to the cornmeal for the firm presentation, as shown here; for a creamy Angu instead of firm, then go with three or four times or 5-6 cups)
* 1 teaspoon Salt, or to taste
* 1 cube Chicken broth powder
* Bacon (fried to a crisp, then chopped to small bits)
* a few fresh parsley leaves

Procedure:

1) Bring the water to a boil, with salt and other seasonings if you prefer (some do not add any seasoning to angu), then reduce heat setting to medium.

2) Gradually add the cornmeal, little by little, slowly and stirring constantly to avoid formation of lumps and to prevent the thickness from rising too fast and uncontrollably. Stir until your Angu reaches the desired thickness, scraping the bottom of the pot as you stir. For the firm version of Angu, the mixture will need to become very thick: pour in a mold. For the creamy version basically it is ready.

3) The Angu prepared this way will seize up when cooling down; after 10 minutes or more, unmold by putting a dish over the mold then turn it upside down. As mentioned ealier, for the creamy Angu simply double the amount of water. Some people like to put milk, right at the last stages of cooking; this is a matter of taste.


4) Decorate the angu with some crispy bacon bits, and a few fresh parsley leaves

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