Polenta Isn’t Just for Dinner

How to cook polentaHave you ever tried polenta from the grocery store … you’ve probably seen it in a sausage-like tube, glowing with an odd yellowish color and the subtle smell of vomit? It’s disgusting and turned us off to the entire idea. After watching a Food Network show recently, we decided to give it another try, but this time we would make it ourselves.

Polenta is made from coarsely ground corn which is cooked into a thick porridge. It can be served in various grades of thickness, from a mashed potatoes consistency or solidified and cut into slabs. Polenta is versatile and can be served plain or can have a variety of ingredients added to it — mushrooms, cheese, herbs. We found the consistency to be enjoyable, a creamy thickness that had the versatility to be either savory or sweet based on what you put with it.

You can find uncooked polenta in your local grocery store where flour and other grains are sold. We used Bob’s Red Mill brand and found it worked quite well. The recipe that follows if for a very basic polenta that is thick — it’s served in slices and is perfect for any meal.

How to cook polentaHeat 6 cup water with 1 tsp. salt over high heat and bring to a boil. Stir in 2 cups polenta and reduce to a simmer. It’s important at this point to keep the mixture moving using a strong wooden spoon. Stir for ~30 minutes — the mixture will thicken immediately, but the consistency and thickness will continue to develop during the 30 minutes. It’s important to keep stirring, don’t give up … you’ll build a few muscles, it’s all good!

How to cook polentaAfter 30 minutes, stir in 3 Tbs. butter until blended. Pour the polenta into a greased baking dish and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes. The polenta will become firm and can be sliced at this point. The polenta can be refrigerated or frozen for later use. We discovered that making a large batch allowed for the leftovers to frozen, so quick meals could be whipped up when working late.

When you make polenta, you must (yes, this is a firm requirement), use polenta as a breakfast item. We cannot describe how amazing it tastes once fried and served with something sweet (see suggestion below). YUM!

Serving Suggestions:

  • Breakfast: Fry slices until lightly browned (about 3-5 minutes per side), drizzle with maple syrup and raspberry preserves.
  • Lunch: Cut into cubes and saute with garlic and olive oil. Serve the toasted cubes on a tossed salad.
  • Dinner: Serve a hearty stewed dish on top of warm polenta slices. The polenta is creamy and lightly sweet, it will absorb the flavors of the stew.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Laura August 21, 2008, 11:20 pm

    This polenta crust idea is fabulous. You might try sending it to Bob’s Red Mill directly (via their website). I live a few minutes from Bob’s Red Mill, where I have actually met ‘Bob’, who looks just like his picture. Thye are always looking for new ideas for their products.Beyond polenta, they carry a dizzying array of groud grain/seed and beany things that you will never find in a grocery store. If you ever get to Oregon, it is worth a visit, and they have a nice little cafe that serves breakfast and lunch.

    Keep on experimenting, and I will keep on checking out your progress!

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