The Basics: Polenta

I love ordering dishes that are served with polenta when I'm dining at Italian restaurants. However, the one time I tried to make polenta at home several years ago, it ended up a mushy flavorless disaster. Since then, I've avoided cooking polenta.

But, I hate limiting myself in the kitchen, so recently I decided to get over my fear. I looked to Alton Brown for guidance, and it turns out he has an easy, almost foolproof recipe that doesn't require standing over the stove for an hour. The polenta is baked in the oven and seasoned with sautéed red onions and parmesan cheese.

It's a great side dish to hearty Winter meats, like short ribs, or a wonderful appetizer canvas once cooled and grilled. To check out the recipe that has restored my polenta confidence,





  1. 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for grilling or sauteing if desired
  2. 3/4 cup finely chopped red onion
  3. 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  4. 1 quart chicken stock or broth
  5. 1 cup coarse ground cornmeal
  6. 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  7. 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  8. 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  9. 2 ounces Parmesan, grated


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large, oven-safe saucepan heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the red onion and salt and sweat until the onions begin to turn translucent, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, add the garlic, and saute for 1 to 2 minutes, making sure the garlic does not burn.
  3. Turn the heat up to high, add the chicken stock, bring to a boil. Gradually add the cornmeal while continually whisking.
  4. Once you have added all of the cornmeal, cover the pot and place it in the oven. Cook for 35 to 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes to prevent lumps. Once the mixture is creamy, remove from the oven and add the butter, salt, and pepper. Once they are incorporated, gradually add the Parmesan.
  5. Serve as is, or pour the polenta into 9 by 13-inch cake pan lined with parchment paper. Place in the refrigerator to cool completely.
  6. Once set, turn the polenta out onto a cutting board and cut into squares, rounds, or triangles. Brush each side with olive oil and saute in a nonstick skillet over medium heat, or grill.

Serves 4-6.

Average ( votes):
That looks like cream of wheat with mustard in it, not polenta.
I LOVE polenta - I've Italian origins and it's a staple in the family. I love it thick like Ticamorena, with butter and cheese melted in it. Then the next day you can slice it and fry it in a pan with ground pepper and parmesan yum! I've also just found a bake recipe that uses polenta slices - will have to try that!
You know, I've never had polenta. But I grew up with my dad making "corn meal mush" for breakfast sometimes, which I think is basically polenta that he chilled in a loaf pan in the fridge, then fried slices in a frying pan and we ate it with maple syrup. I've been craving making it for a while now, but I need a good topping to go with it for dinner. Everyday Food recently had a yummy-looking recipe for polenta served with pork and greens, but I'm not so into pork... I'll have to try this recipe. I need me some polenta.
Polenta is great, though I always make it the orthodox way with water and the polenta, then I love flavouring it with different oils, sun dried tomatoes, preserves aubergines. Grilled polenta squares are a great snack. The only thing I dislike is when restaurants make it too watery/soft, I like mine a little thicker
GD I love this stuff
Join The Conversation