- Dish type
- Side dish
This classic Italian dish makes a great accompaniment to meat dishes, particularly those with a rich sauce or gravy.
14 people made this
- 200g quick-cooking (instant) polenta
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 40g butter
- 60g Parmesan, freshly grated
- 2 tbsp crème fraîche
- salt and coarsely ground black pepper
MethodPrep:15min ›Cook:15min ›Ready in:30min
- Bring 1 litre of lightly salted water to the boil in a heavy-based saucepan. Add the oil. Gradually tip in the polenta, reduce the heat to a simmer and stir vigorously with a long-handled wooden spoon until the mixture is thick and all the water has been absorbed. Stand back as you do this, as polenta splutters quite dramatically.
- Scrape the polenta away from the sides of the pan. Remove from the heat and leave covered for 5 minutes.
- Add the butter in thin slices, the Parmesan and the crème fraîche. Season to taste and mix. Serve hot.
*Buy Parmesan in a piece and grate it yourself. This works out far cheaper than ready grated and has a better flavour. *Cooked polenta can be left to sit in a shallow tin, then cut into wedges and grilled to use as a base for bruschetta.
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Creamy Oven Polenta
Ah, polenta. It&rsquos creamy and comforting, but so often misunderstood. Stand over the pot, stirring, for hours on end? No thank you. Enter this hands-off method for creamy oven polenta from Sheela Prakash&rsquos cookbook, Mediterranean Every Day. Suddenly, the cheesy side dish is a weeknight staple.
&ldquoFor years, I labored over the traditional stovetop approach,&rdquo Prakash writes, &ldquoand for every time it came out perfectly, there were at least a couple times it would end up gummy and cement-like. Cooking polenta in the oven isn&rsquot conventional but it&rsquos the only method I&rsquove found that produces the most consistent results. It also happens to be the most hands-off approach: Slip a baking dish of polenta and water in the oven and return less than an hour later to find perfectly creamy results&mdashno standing over the pot, stirring, required.&rdquo
That's not the only perk: &ldquoWhile the polenta does its thing in the oven, focus your energy on making the topping of your choice on the stove.&rdquo We&rsquore partial to crispy mushrooms or tender sautéed greens, but this is your masterpiece.
Reprinted with permission from Mediterranean Every Day: Simple, Inspired Recipes for Feel-Good Food, Copyright © 2020 by Sheela Prakash. Published by The Harvard Common Press, an Imprint of The Quarto Group.
Extra-virgin olive oil, as needed for coating the dish
1 cup (163g) polenta (coarse-ground, not instant or quick-cooking)
Freshly ground black pepper
½ cup (28g) packed fresh finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons (28g) unsalted butter, cubed
1. Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Drizzle some olive oil into an 8-by-8-inch or other 2-quart baking dish and use your hands to coat the bottom and sides of the dish with oil. Add the polenta, salt and several grinds of black pepper to the dish. Pour in the water and whisk to combine.
3. Bake, uncovered, for 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and whisk in the cheese and butter cubes (the butter doesn&rsquot need to be completely melted). Return to the oven and bake, uncovered, until all the liquid is absorbed and the polenta is creamy, 8 to 10 minutes more. Whisk once or twice more and serve immediately with the topping of your choice.
Note: It&rsquos important to use the right type of polenta here, but shopping for it can be unnecessarily complicated if you don&rsquot know what you&rsquore looking for. Bypass instant or quick-cooking polenta, as well as the pre-cooked tubes. Instead, look for coarse-ground polenta. It&rsquos easy to find at Italian markets, but if you&rsquore shopping for it at larger grocery stores, Bob&rsquos Red Mill is likely to be the brand you&rsquoll come across, although they label their polenta as &ldquoCorn Grits Polenta.&rdquo
Look no further. This is the best recipe out there! Easy to follow and Delicious!
This is my first review after 5 years of loyal Epicurious participation. The reviews are what keep me anchored to Epicurious. I too made the base recipe and was underwhelmed. I feel that when people alter the recipe and transform it from "eh!" to wonderful, in their opinion, I'm all for it. Frankly, I also consider the chef's geo-area. I travel a lot and find that even as our regional accents may have devolved somewhat, our regional taste preferences are still strong ..And that effects reviewers comments. So, I followed Eeloo's suggestion ( he/she's NW USA like me) , minus the double boiler, went with a good Italian herb infused oil, slight modification . WAY GOOD! Glad I made extra so I can serve it with his/her sautée with halibut later in the week. Thank you chefs. Keep tweaking and sharing!
I know people don't like seeing reviews about recipes that have been altered so this rating is based on the recommendations others made. I've never made polenta before as it looks so bland but wanted to to try it. I followed the suggestions of half chicken broth, half milk, parmesan cheese and cooked it in the double boiler. Instead of butter, I drizzled a bit of basil infused olive oil and served it with a sautee of peppers, zucchini, onion, cherry tomatoes a dash of vermouth and black cod. Absolutely delicious and so easy.
Following the advice of several other reviewers, I used equal parts milk and chicken broth, prepared in a double boiler and added freshly grated parmesan cheese . Made 1 / 2 recipe and served with osso bucco. Delicious! Will make again!
I make this with half whole milk and half water. Delicious and easy! The leftovers fry up lovely as well.
Made a few changes: Put course grind polenta and broth/milk (room temp) in the pot over medium heat and stirred when it started to thicken, I added 1 cup of finely grated Pecorino Romano (from a chunk and not pre-grated) When polenta started to pull away from the pot as I stirred, I added butter and S P. Perfect. By not boiling the polenta, it had much better flavor and texture. Served as soon as it was done topped with whole Lautrec Sausages, onions and grapes all cooked on stove top Tomorrow I'm going to put everything but the cheese and butter, into my crockpot, start it on high for 30" and then on low for another 30 .
Made the changes most suggested here and added a few of my own - it was fabulous! Used 1/2 milk and 1/2 chick broth. Much like a favorite restaurant from years ago, served with a healthy dollop of pesto in the center, surrounded by slices of tomato around the edge, and topped with thin slices of a good cheese (I used bits of fresh mozza) that melted into the whole thing. Absolutely sublime! Served as a main dish with baguette toast and a salad.
I did cut the recipe in half, but when I was finished it just tasted like butter.
Definitely add 1/2 milk, 1/2 chicken broth in place of the water. Cooking is easier and faster by using a double boiler - only 25 minutes. If you can't serve it immediately, try adding more milk to the pot without stirring it in. Leave the double boiler on the lowest heat and stir the milk in just before serving. Yum.
I got a grain mill for our Kitchen-Aide mixer for a Christmas present. Wow! I snagged some field corn on the cob from a feed store (AKA "Horse Corn"). I shelled it and ground some fresh, coarse corn meal. I used the ingredients in this recipe, but I did it in a crock pot, cooking on low overnight. Next morning, done and creamy smooth.I poured it into a loaf pan and cooled, then chilled. Sliced and grilled, sauteed, or backed is awesome!
Turned out fluffy and tasty once I "fixed it" a couple of times. As other reviewers did, used 1/2 2% milk and 1/2 broth. Maybe my mistake was that I brought it to a boil before I turned it down to simmer? I needed to thin it out with water a few times during the cooking process (that took way less than 45 min). Will make again and try a mushroom ragu over it (had pork with cherry sauce).
Yes yes yessss, this is a heavenly base for whatever sauce or topping you can whip up, and a super easy way to prepare it. Definitely do 1/2 milk 1/2 stock thang, much creamier and way more flavorful. And despite what the other reviewer says, do NOT skimp on your quality of polenta/cornmeal. I splurged on freshly milled cornmeal at the farmers market, and at the risk of sounding like the biggest bougie you've ever heard, it is indeed the most delightful and thrilling polenta I've ever had. When's the last time you ever thought polenta was thrilling? That's right, I thought so. Do yourself a favor, get fancy polenta!
Very good recipe. "Polenta" is a dish, "cornmeal" is its ingredient (as well as other ground grains, such as buckwheat), even though plain cornmeal is sold marked as "polenta" with, of course, a higher price. All that is needed is very good quality cornmeal. no need to buy the "gourmet" products labeled "Polenta".
Wow, this was so creamy and delicious! I follow reviewer suggestion and made from ɼold' start used half milk and half chicken broth in place of water. I really like the cooking method. When the polenta was finished cooking, I added 1 C grated cheese and about 1 tsp dried thyme. This will definitely be the recipe I 'go to' for soft polenta. This was a side dish for BA Spanish Crusted Roast Pork Tenderloin (wonderful).
Polenta is a wonderful food. This recipe seems to be the building block. Iɽ suggest a couple of things, however. First, Iɽ suggest substituting broth for water. A vegetable, chicken, fish or beef broth adds a wonderful dimension to the flavor and better links the polenta to the main dish. Second, Iɽ recommend experimenting with adding your favorite enhancements, such as sauteed mushrooms, basil, or cheeses, late in the cooking process. It seems to me that it's difficult to go wrong with this basic recipe and it's fun to adapt it to your family's tastes over time.
I used cornmeal from the baking aisle and it turned out great! Also reheats in the microwave with a bit of water really well.
Simple, Delicious, have made it again and again. Always a great side dish.
Wow! this is the first polenta recipe that worked the way it was supposed to for me. Usually the polenta cooks way too fast. I used the polenta they sell in the bulk bin at Whole Foods and cooked it for an entire 45 minutes. (I actually prefer doing this with grits for example.) The polenta really was "creamy."
Wow, great comfort food and so easy. I, too, used the cold water method (substituting a can of chicken stock for a portion of that) then stirred in a cup of pecorino romano cheese once off the heat. Topped with a creamy mushroom sauce, this simple dish is hard to beat!
First time to try polenta. Have a new love. Followed other reviews and made with broth and milk and started cold. Added some parmesan cheese and topped with sauted shitake mushrooms. Awesome!
I used 1/2 milk and 1/2 chicken stock and added Italian Spices, Garlic Pepper, and grated parmesan cheese. It was great!
Try this instead and save yourselves as lot of time: Soft Polenta 2 quarts water 2 Tablespoons butter 2 teaspoons salt 2 Tablespoons minced parsley 2 cups coarse-ground cornmeal Combine water, salt, cornmeal and butter in a 3 to 4 quart ovenproof saucepan (I use large clear Pyrex bowl). Bake in preheated 350-degree oven 1 hour and 20 minutes. Stir polenta and bake 10 more minutes. Remove from oven and set aside 5 minutes to rest before serving. To serve, spoon polenta into each of 6 warmed shallow bowls. Spoon sauce of your choice and garnish with parsley if desired.
Three forks with modifications. I always start polenta in cold water - it allows the starch to expand more making it creamier. Also start with 1/2 milk and 1/2 chicken broth for flavor and creaminess.
Just a not to the last reviewer, yes it works quite well starting with the cold water. And yes I start my oatmeal - cream of wheat, (even grits!) this way, and it comes out much creamier, and as long as you stir from time to time, there's no problem with clumping! give it a try!
This is a very reliable recipe for polenta. The beauty of polenta is you can be really inventive, adding seasonings, cheese, it's always delicious! To the person who starts with cold water, I have never heard of that for making polenta. Wouldn't it take longer, and clump? Making polenta is like making oatmeal or cream of wheat, and you start with boiling water or scalded milk to make them.
File this polenta recipe for when summer fruit is abundant. It is delicious with the plums called for in this recipe, but you may also want to consider using figs, or pitted sweet cherries.
Instant polenta, mushrooms, spinach and an egg get you a plate of comfort food for one in only 15 minutes.
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Yes! I would add an extra 1/4 cup of milk, water or chicken stock as it tends to firm up as it cools and sits. When you reheat, if it’s super thick still, add more liquid as needed. Keep in mind, this will dilute the flavor so you may also have to add more salt or cheese to keep up.
If you simply want to make it an hour or two in advance. Make it up until adding the butter and cheese. Cover and cool. When you’re ready to serve, turn the heat up and add any extra liquid if you need it. When it’s hot and creamy, add in the butter and the cheese.
Polenta is a traditional side dish both in the southern U.S. and in northern Italy. It's made by simmering coarsely ground cornmeal until the natural starches are released, making it wonderfully creamy and satisfying. It's actually quite similar to grits, although grits are made with nixtamalized corn (aka hominy), whereas polenta is made from ordinary corn.
You can make polenta by simmering it in plain water, but water doesn't have any flavor, so stock is a much better choice. Chicken stock is great for making polenta, and so is veal stock. But for the best polenta you ever tasted, simmer a ham hock for a couple of hours and use the resulting liquid to make your polenta.
Speaking of which, when you're making this polenta, bear in mind that the finished product should be as thick as possible while still remaining a liquid. In other words, not so thick that you spoon it out in clumps, or that it stands up on the plate like a brick.
Rather, it should be almost pourable. Not quite as pourable as soup, but like very thick lava. In fact, because it is so thick, polenta can hold its temperature for quite a long time, so take care to let it cool sufficiently before you serve it. It should be hot, but not literally volcanic.
To be sure, there are times when you might want firm polenta, such as when you're grilling it or frying it, or planning to cut it into squares to use as a base for canapes. These are all wonderful ways of serving polenta, and if you let this polenta cool and then chill it, it can be used in all of these ways as well. But when you're serving it as a side dish or with braised or roasted vegetables, meats or poultry, soft and creamy is the goal.
Ingredients You Need To Make Creamy Polenta
Detailed measurements and instructions can be found on the printable recipe card at the bottom of the page.
- Water – One of the main ingredients to making this. Keep in mind the ratio to make the perfect polenta is 4 parts water to 1 part cornmeal.
- Butter –Unsalted so that we can control our sodium content.
- Cornmeal –The base of our Polenta, the key ingredient in this shining dish.
- Salt –Just to taste, keep in mind our parmesan cheese will add quite a bit of saltiness to this dish.
- Parmesan cheese –We want something nice and sharp. If you have a nice quality block of Parmesan lying around this is the time to use it.
- 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1 cup quick-cooking polenta
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
- 1/2 cup Asiago cheese, grated
- Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Bring the chicken stock and milk to a boil in a saucepan. Once the liquid comes to a boil, stir in the polenta with a wooden spoon until it all comes together. Stir in the butter, parsley, cheese and nutmeg, and season with salt and pepper.
What to Serve with Polenta
Polenta, like rice, potatoes, or pasta can be used to enhance any dish. Serve under stews, with your favorite sauce, or use as a side dish for my Italian Pot Roast. The possibilities are endless. I like to make the cakes and use them as a pizza crust by topping it with my favorite sauce and cheese and baking it in the oven for a great gluten-free option.
Make the chili oil: place all of the spices in a small bowl. Heat the oil in a small pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, carefully pour over the spices, mix and set aside.
Char the asparagus: Cut the asparagus on the bias in 2 inch pieces. Heat a large pan over medium-high heat. Add in the oil, and once hot, add in the asparagus. Using tongs, sauté in the oil. After 1 minute, add in a big pinch of kosher salt and ground black pepper. After about 5-7 minutes, once the asparagus is just fork tender, add in fresh lemon juice, toss and remove from heat. Top with fresh lemon zest.
Make polenta: In a large pot, add 1 cup water with the 2 cloves of garlic over medium-high heat, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, use tongs or a slotted spoon to quickly remove the garlic cloves and slowly pour in the polenta while whisking. Once all the polenta is in, keep whisking until the mixture is smooth with no large lumps. Reduce heat to low, so the mixture is just simmering. Whisk occasionally over the course of 5 minutes until the polenta is swollen and thickening. Then add in the oat milk, stir, cover and cook for about 20-25 minutes until the polenta is soft and cooked up. Remove from the heat and add in a big pinch of kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, the sour cream and 1 tbsp of the vegan butter. Whisk in until smooth and taste to adjust for salt.
Plating: Pour the polenta into a large serving dish. Top with remaining 1 tbsp of vegan butter, asparagus and drizzle on chili oil. Garnish with toasted pine nuts and microgreens (if using). Serve immediately.