Top | Kelly Myers
(recipe, Kelly Myers)
Here is a method that results in a creamy polenta full of body. This technique of stirring every 10 minutes comes from the esteemed Italian cookbook author Marcella Hazan. I have simply put it in my own words.
I have made this polenta dozens of times. The process is simple, but read through the recipe before you start and it will be even clearer.
If you are serving fewer people, make this with just 1 cup of polenta and adjust the ratio of water. But I recommend using 2 cups anyway and planning on leftovers. Chilled polenta sets up. The next day, slice it and reheat in the oven or fry in a nonstick skillet until the edges are crisp.
- 8 cups water
- Salt to taste
- 2 cups cornmeal ground for polenta (see Note)
- 4 Tbsp. butter, or less to taste
- ½ cup grated Parmigiano cheese, or less to taste
- Bring the water to a boil in a heavy-bottomed pot. Add salt to the water. Begin quickly whisking the water with one hand. With your other hand, pour the polenta into the water in a steady stream as you continue to whisk vigorously. Once the polenta is evenly incorporated, turn the heat to low.
- Stir frequently with a wooden spoon in the first 10 minutes. While the heat is reducing to low, the polenta may bubble and spit; stirring helps the excess heat escape and prevents lumps. (Optional: as a precaution, partly cover the pot to catch any polenta splatters.)
- Every 10 minutes, stir the polenta for 1 full minute. Run the spoon along the bottom of the pot and scrape down the sides.
- Taste the polenta about midway through the process. It should taste lightly seasoned with salt. Keep in mind that as the polenta cooks, the water will evaporate and the polenta will taste more highly seasoned as the salt concentration increases.
- The polenta will be done in 45 minutes to 1 hour. Taste to check for bitterness. Undercooked polenta can sometimes be bitter. If it is, continue cooking until it sweetens. Add ½ cup water if necessary.
- Stir in the butter and Parmigiano, and serve hot.
Cornmeal sold for polenta use may be labeled as polenta or polenta grits.
Culinate editor's note: Cornmeal packaged for polenta (try the bulk section of your grocery store) is generally degermed before being ground. You can also use coarsely ground or medium-grind corn ground from whole kernels; it has more nutrients and is perfectly tasty as a polenta substitute, although the resulting porridge will be less creamy.