Polenta is one of those side dishes that is super versatile and goes well with almost anything. If you’ve never heard of polenta or never tried it before, I highly recommend giving this recipe a go.
Polenta is basically cornmeal that has been cooked to form a porridge like consistency. It becomes thick and creamy and is incredibly popular in french an northern Italian cooking. It can be made to be soft and pour-able or cooked for a bit longer and refrigerated to become slice-able.
Cooking times for polenta can vary depending on the coarseness of the polenta or cornmeal you’re using. The more fine the polenta, the less time it takes to cook. The polenta we always bought in the states needed to cook for around 35 minutes while the polenta we buy here in Scotland only needs to cook for about 3 minutes. Moral of the story, read the package instructions on whatever polenta you buy to be sure you cook it for the right amount of time. When in doubt, give it a taste and if it’s no longer gritty or crunchy, then it’s finished.
Here are the instructions for a yummy, creamy polenta:
Makes 4 cups of polenta
Bring 4 cups of salted water to a boil in a pot with a lid.
Add in one cup of polenta while whisking. Whisk constantly until the polenta starts to thicken.
Reduce the heat to low and put a lid on the pot (the polenta will bubble and spatter). Read the package instructions for the proper cooking time. Cooking time can vary from 3 to 40 minutes depending in the coarseness of the polenta. Whisk vigorously every 10 minutes. For creamier polenta cook for less time. For polenta that is more firm, cook for longer. Once you are happy with the polenta’s consistency, turn off the heat.
Taste for seasoning and either serve as is or, for added decadence, add in 2 tbs of butter and/or 1 cup of shredded cheese.
If served hot from the pan, the polenta will be pour-able. If refrigerated, it will become slice-able. Leftovers can be reheated with a little bit of water or stock to be made pour-able again.
Creamy polenta goes great with Pot Roast, beef stew, or roasted mushrooms. We use it periodically as a healthier replacement for mashed potatoes.
If you like what you just read, subscribe to Southern Abroad for more recipes that bring the world to your kitchen delivered directly to your inbox!
Makes 4 cups
- 1 cup polenta or cornmeal
- 4 cups water
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tbs butter (optional)
- 1 cup shredded cheese (optional)
Bring water and salt to a boil in a pot with a lid. Slowly add in the polenta while whisking. Whisk constantly until the polenta starts to thicken.
Reduce the heat to low, put the lid on and cook for between 3 and 40 minutes (reference package for recommended cooking time). Cooking time will vary greatly depending on the coarseness of the polenta. If in doubt, taste every 5 to 10 minutes. Polenta is finished when it is no longer gritty or crunchy.
Whisk vigorously every 10 minutes.
Once desired consistency is reached, turn off the heat and stir in the butter and/or cheese for added decadence.
Serve immediately for creamy polenta or refrigerate for slice-able polenta.
You might also like: