Polenta is a staple of Italian cooking and it is a good gluten-free choice when it comes to grains, but also low carb grains. In essence, Polenta is a dish of boiled cornmeal and it may be served as a hot cornmeal porridge or cold as an alternative to bread. It also makes a great alternative for mashed potatoes or pasta. It can be served hot or cold with various sauces and toppings.
For a great texture, for this recipe I use coarse-ground cornmeal. Fine grind of cornmeal is not recommended for this classic Polenta recipe.
Some of the most delicious Polenta based dishes:
- Polenta with fried fish fillets and garlic
- Cheesy Polenta with a tomato based sauce with rosemary and sausages
- Polenta with chilli minced beef
- Polenta with creamy Mushrooms and Chicken sauce
- Polenta with creamy spinach
- Polenta with feta cheese, soured cream and poached eggs
Ingredients for a Classic Polenta
- 1 cup coarse-ground Cornmeal
- 5 cups (1200 ml) water
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- pinch of baking soda (optional)
- 2-3 tablespoons butter (optional)
Baking soda is only used to help the cornmeal to break down to a smooth consistency and create a creamy texture with minimal stirring. However, most times, i forget to add it as my grandma never used baking soda.
Instructions for a Classic Polenta
- Bring water to a boil in a large saucepan.
- Stir in salt and a pinch of baking soda.
- Reduce to a low-medium heat and stir in the cornmeal to the boiling water saucepan in a thin stream while whisking constantly in order to prevent lumps. Use either a stiff whisk or a large wooden spoon and stir constantly for about 5 minutes until the mixture thickens and starts to boil.
- When the Polenta starts bubbling, reduce heat to lowest setting and cover. After a couple of minutes, whisk until smooth and scrape the sides and the bottom of the saucepan. If the Polenta bubbles up and splatters, it means that the heat is still too high and it needs to be reduced further. (Tip: Make flame tamer which is a 1 inch thick ring of the size of your burner made from from a sheet of heavy duty aluminium foil.)
- Cover and continue to cook the Polenta for another 45 minutes, stirring and scraping the sides every few minutes.
- When the grains are tender and Polenta peels off the sides of the saucepan, remove from heat and stir in the butter. Cover and let sit for 5-10 minutes.
- Once it has cooled off a bit, you can either use a large ice cream scoop to scoop out the Polenta and serve it or you can add it for a minute back on the stove to heat the bottom of the saucepan and then cover it with a large serving platter and turn up the saucepan to drop the Polenta onto the platter.
Polenta can be served immediately or it can be left to cool down and then cubed to be roasted or grilled.
Nutrition Information *
Servings 6 Amount Per Serving: Calories 107
Total Fat 4 g
Saturated Fat 2 g
Monounsaturated Fat 1 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 10 mg
Sodium 335 mg
Potassium 1 mg
Total Carbohydrate 15 g
Dietary Fiber 3 g
Sugars 0 g
Protein 1 g
* The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.