Basic Polenta

While reviewing the Bistro Cooking at Home cookbook, I came across a few recipes for Polenta. I have never attempted to make polenta, so I was initially concerned that it would not turn out well.

The list of ingredients is very small. The biggest challenge with the recipe is the amount of time that the polenta cooks in the saucepan and the need to “babysit it”. However, I totally got it when at about the 38-39 minute mark the polenta turned into a rich creamy texture. When it was done, I removed it from the heat, hit it with the butter and cheese and knew that it was great.

The Basic Polenta recipe is great if you serve it with a stewed meat such as lamb shanks or braised beef ribs. I was looking to use it in a crispy version, so the recipe here is the first step.

Recipe source – Bistro Cooking at Home


2 quarts water
1½ teaspoons kosher salt, or more to taste
2 cups medium-ground cornmeal, or a combination of fine and medium

To serve as is, add
5 tablespoons softened unsalted butter
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano


1. Bring 1 quart of water and the salt to a boil in a large saucepan.

2. In a large bowl, combine the cornmeal and the remaining 1 quart water and stir to combine. Let the cornmeal absorb some of the water for about 2 minutes.

3. Gradually whisk the polenta and water from the bowl into the boiling water. continue to whisk until the polenta begins to thicken, about 5 minutes.

4. Lower the heat to low and cook the polenta, stirring well every few minutes, until the polenta begins to pull away from the sides of the pan and has a soft, creamy texture, about 45 minutes (If the polenta sputters and makes a mess, partially cover the pan).

If you are making basic polenta for one of the recipes that follow –
Look at the recipe itself to see how much butter and what kind of cheese and how much of it to add.

If you are making basic polenta to serve as is –
Add the amounts of butter and cheese in the ingredients list above and stir well to combine. As the polenta sits, it will begin to thicken. If it becomes thicker than you like, add a little more water or some milk and stir to combine.


1 Comment

Filed under Dinner, Sides

One response to “Basic Polenta

  1. Pingback: Crispy Polenta Triangles with Chanterelles and Asiago | andhebakes

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