Basic Polenta

Basic Polenta

A staple of northern Italy, polenta is a type of corn meal that can be served in a number of ways—as a first course, baked, with stews or even as a bread substitute.


Serves 4 to 6. If you do not have a heavy-bottomed saucepan, you may want to use the ExtraLow® setting on your Thermador range or cooktop to manage the heat. A flame tamer, another option, can be purchased at most kitchen supply stores, or one can be fashioned from a ring of foil. It’s easy to tell whether you need a flame tamer or not. If the polenta bubbles or sputters at all after the first 10 minutes, the heat is too high, and you need one. Properly heated polenta will do little more than release wisps of steam. When stirring the polenta, make sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the pan to ensure even cooking. Use this polenta as the base for any stew or braise. Cooked leafy greens also make excellent toppings for soft polenta. Ingredients: 6 cups water Salt 1½ cups medium cornmeal, preferably stone-ground 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into large chunks Ground black pepper
1. Bring the water to a rolling boil in a heavy-bottomed 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting, add 1½ teaspoons salt, and pour the cornmeal into the water in a very slow stream from a measuring cup, all the while whisking in a circular motion to prevent lumps. 2. Cover and cook, vigorously stirring the polenta with a wooden spoon for about 10 seconds once every 5 minutes and making sure to scrape clean the bottom and corners of the pot, until the polenta has lost its raw cornmeal taste and becomes soft and smooth, about 30 minutes. Stir in the butter, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve immediately. Polenta with Gorgonzola Serves 4 to 6 as a substantial first course or light entrée Choose a Gorgonzola dolce or other mild, creamy blue cheese such as Saga Blue. Do not use an aged Gorgonzola for this dish. Other aged blue cheeses will also be too salty, crumbly, and pungent. Follow the recipe for Basic Polenta, dividing the finished polenta among individual bowls. Top each bowl with a 1-ounce slice of Gorgonzola cheese and serve immediately.