For traditional polenta, one slowly pours corn meal into boiling water, stirring vigorously to insure smoothness and no lumps. One proceeds to stir quite often, to insure that the bottom of the pan doesn’t scorch.
An easier approach: Slowly stir boiling water into the corn meal (vice-versa of the traditional way). Finish cooking in the microwave, stirring every few minutes, or bake (stirring once, half-way through). The remaining ingredients are stirred into the cooked polenta and poured into a serving dish. It firms up more within an hour or so, or serve immediately for softer polenta.
For maximum nutrition, find an organic, non-degerminated whole-grain corn meal at the health food store. A fine corn meal will give a softer texture; some will prefer the coarser grind. Serves 8-10, or 15 or so as an appetizer.
- 4 c. boiling water
- 1 c. fine corn meal, yellow or white
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 c. parmesan
- 2 TBS. butter (or olive oil)
- 1/4 c. cream
- 1/2 c. sour cream
1. Using a large ceramic bowl, slowly add the boiling water to the corn meal, stirring constantly. When smooth, cook in microwave for 20 minutes, stirring once every minute or two. If baking, pour the corn meal mix into a 13 x 9″ pan; bake at 375 degrees in an oiled baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes, stir, and finish baking for 20 minutes more. Use: > 1 c. fine corn meal > 1 tsp. salt > 4 c. boiling water
2. When polenta is finishing cooking/baking, add the parmesan, mixing until it is smooth and melted into the polenta: > 1/2 c. parmesan
3. Also add: > 2 TBS. butter (or olive oil) > 1/4 c. cream > 1/2 c. sour cream
4. Serve immediately, or make ahead of time and reheat before serving time. Garnish with fresh chopped herbs, sun-dried tomatoes, or other toppings for variety.
5. To serve as an appetizer, make the polenta a day or two ahead. Pour the finished polenta into a 13 x 9” pan and chill. Before serving, spread the top with pesto and cut into squares. Put the firm polenta squares onto foil, slightly separated from each other. Sprinkle with parmesan and bake for ten minutes or so to warm, then broil just until the parmesan is golden. Serve garnished with a bit of sundried tomato.