Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Polenta is just about the most versatile ingredient I can think of.  Polenta can be made sweet, savory, creamy, crispy - whatever your little stomach desires. 

Today, I'll show you how to make the base for several other recipes, including a simple rustic first course or light meal. 

So you can easily make polenta vegetarian by omitting the chicken broth.  This is actually the first time I've made it with broth - I usually make it with milk, but I didn't have milk and I hate using water when there is an opportunity to use flavor so today, chicken stock it is.

Here is the full list of ingredients:

Low Sodium Chicken Stock
Parmesan Cheese
Unsalted Butter
Kosher Salt - Pictured here but I didn't use it

If you go to the grocery store and frantically search for polenta and don't find it - don't worry.  All polenta is, is corn meal.  I picked up some polenta at my local Italian grocery store and since the entire package was in Italian, I missed the fact it said instant.  Even though I'm super lazy and impatient, I usually don't go for instant when it comes to cooking.  This, however, worked out great and it only took 3 minutes as opposed to 15 - 20.  I'm a believer. 

So, start with your chicken stock.  Heat up whatever liquid you want until it's at a boil.

Add your polenta. 

And start whisking quickly.  You don't want lumps so whisk whisk whisk.

So this is what happened after 3 minutes.  You can imagine my surprise and jubilee when I was expecting a 15-20 minute cook time.  What?  I can eat this sooner?  Scoooore.

Once it gets thick, give it a taste and remove it from the heat.  You want to make sure it's cooked and you also want to check what seasoning you want to add.  So I thought I would want to add kosher salt, but I decided against it.  I got enough sodium from the chicken stock.  Add your butter and whisk that in.

Freshly grate your Parmesan...

...and stir it in.  Ok, so at this point, you can then put this in a bowl, top with some bolognese, tomato sauce, more butter, more parm, whateva.  Basically treat it as a pasta of sorts and add whatever goodies you can think of.  It's creamy, comforting, and delicious.  But today, I tried it a new way.

Dump it into a cookie sheet. Spread it out as best as you can with a spatula.

You will need to use your hands to even it out.  Just gently push and move it around so everything is as level as possible.  If it sticks to your hand, just dampen your hand a bit with water.  Ok so I didn't get a manicure but at least I took my ugly chipped purple polish off.  You're welcome.

So in hindsight I would have worked a bit quicker.  I think maybe because it was instant it set up a bit quicker?  Not sure.  But, it wasn't quite as even as I liked but whatever. IT'S CALLED HOMEMADE, OKAY?

Put it in the fridge until it sets up.  It was probably in there for about fifteen minutes or so.  If you use regular polenta, I would let it set up for a couple of hours so it's very firm.

We got this pizza cutter about a week ago.  Charlie and I have probably eaten a few thousand pizzas since we joined forces seven years ago and neither of us owned a pizza cutter until now.  I actually bought this to cut fresh pasta.  Turns out it works nicely on polenta too.

Cut large squares and use a spatula to put it on a cutting board.

Once it's at this point, feel free to trim it up and make it look as pretty as you want.

Cut it in half so you have ....... two triangles!  Ta daaaaaaaaaaaa.  I am a geometry whizz.  Not.

Do the same with a few other pieces so you can have a nice little assembly line.

So I tried this first in a cast iron skillet.  DUUUUUHHHSASTER.  It stuck and fell apart so I threw it at my husband.  Take 2:  Non stick pan with olive oil.

This actually cooked longer than I thought it was going to.  I cooked each side for about 7-8 minutes until it was golden brown.

The easiest way to flip this is to get under the longer leg of the obtuse triangle.  See?  Geometry whizz.

This is how it should look.  Yum nom yums noms.

Throw it on a plate and pour some good tomato sauce on top.  Or some mushroom ragu, or some bolognese, or alfredo sauce, or the dust that's sitting in the corner of your living room.   Oh that's just at my house?

Finish it off with some parm if you like and enjoy.  This is so easy and so good.  I'll be posting an awesome appetizer recipe using crispy polenta in a couple of days so stay tuned and stay hungry!

Polenta Recipe
1-3/4 Cup of Polenta
6 Cups of Low Sodium Chicken Broth
3 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
1/2 Cup Parmesan Cheese

Bring stock to a boil.  Whisk in polenta.  If using instant, cook for 3 minutes or so or until thickened.  Regular polenta will take 15-20 minutes.  Remove polenta from heat and add butter and Parmesan.  Move to cookie sheet and spread evenly with hands until even.  Cool in fridge until very firm.  Cut in desired shape and fry in olive oil in non stick skillet on each side for 8 or so minutes or until crispy and golden brown.  Add desired toppings and serve.  YUM!


  1. Looks incredibly delicious. This is on my "to make as soon as possible list." I am starving and I want it NOW.

  2. This looks very yummy. I am thankful that there isn't any meat in it.


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