To find out how to cook polenta, I headed to Eating Out Loud. I needed to find out how to cook polenta because my next cupcake has polenta as an ingredient. Since I was making polenta anyway, we decided to have it for dinner. Polenta is a cheap and easy way to have a dinner that looks incredibly gourmet. For the best effect, be sure to call your polenta dinner “polenta with ragout and pan seared beef” rather than “cornmeal with tomato sauce and hamburger meat.”
Cooking polenta is really easy, and the best part (depending on how you look at it) is that you can cook polenta instead of taking a trip to the gym. It involves stirring a very heavy cornmeal mush for about thirty minutes – an incredible arm workout! First, you’ll need to buy some uncooked polenta. Polenta is essentially cornmeal, and any old cornmeal would work just fine. However, according to a helpful discussion thread on Chowhound, polenta has more of a standardized grain size. I purchased my uncooked polenta from the bulk bin at Whole Foods. Bob’s Red Mill also sells it. Below you’ll find the polenta cooking technique as found on Eating Out Loud, along with my notes.
How to Cook Polenta
- 6 C water
- 1 t salt
- 2 C uncooked polenta any cornmeal will work
- 3 T unsalted butter
- Heat water with salt over high heat and bring to a boil.
- Stir in polenta and reduce to a simmer. It’s important at this point to keep the mixture moving using a strong wooden spoon.
- Stir for about 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. (I wanted to give up. I wanted so much to give up. I ended up having my husband help out. He's made polenta before and never stirred for thirty minutes. He didn't see the point until it was all done and the consistency was perfect! If you prefer more of a soft polenta, then I give you the OK to quit.)
- After 30 minutes, stir in 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.
Coming up next, I’ve got a post about polenta cupcakes that somehow morphed into awesome moist corn muffins.