Makes 4 servings
Polenta is a highly versatile ingredient. It can be used as a base to rest a multitude of roasted vegetables. Or, once made and deep fried, serve as crunchy on the outside, creamy on the inside polenta croutons, or even as a stand-in for pasta in a polenta based lasagna.
Polenta, while generally made with a coarser grind of corn can be made with a finer grind to decrease cooking time. Since there are usually also more organic options for dry “cornmeal” than dry “polenta”, and the term “polenta” seems to carry extra cost, we like to use organic cornmeal. “Cornflour” should be avoided for this recipe as it would congeal unpleasantly without enough texture.
If you’ve ever had polenta with a bitter after taste, it is simply a matter of it not being cooked long enough. Polenta may seem done and thickened after just a few minutes; but it is important for it to cook, bubbling away for at least 25 minutes.
Use a 4 parts water / liquid :1 part cornmeal ratio for polenta, when covered. If uncovered, you will need to replace evaporated liquid with about another 1/2 part water.
Despite so many recipes instructing you to first boil water then add polenta, this is a certain recipe for lumps. Heating water and polenta together will ensure no lumps and has no adverse effects.
Despite its reputation as a labor of love of Italian grandmothers, taking hours of constant stirring attention, polenta is quite a bit simpler with needing about 30 minutes and stirring every 5 minutes or so is plenty.
4 cups cool / tepid water
1 cup cornmeal or polenta (difference is only in size of grind and often price)
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup parmesan
In large, heavy saucepan bring water, cornmeal and salt to a boil, stirring until polenta begins to thicken and bubble, about 5 minutes. Turn heat down to medium low and cover. Continue cooking for 25 minutes stirring every 5 minutes. After 25 minutes, add cheese, stir well and test for additional salt.
If serving as a bed of creamy polenta, pour polenta onto serving plates.
If sliceable polenta is desired, pour polenta into oiled baking dish and refrigerate to set for at least 1 hour before easily slicing.
This dish can easily made vegan by omitting the cheese and adding another 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of salt.