Polenta recipe

Picture of polenta recipe
This is the most basic of polenta recipes - I make it like this every time. Making your polenta from scratch lets you control the flavor and salt content, and it always comes out much nicer than ready made polenta in a tube. ;)

Polenta is a great substitute for pasta, and you can do so much more with it. I absolutely love to fry it and I recently made a lasagna from it, too.
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Step 1: What you'll need:

Picture of what you'll need:
  • 1 cup cornmeal or corn grits
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 - 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of butter/margarine
  • pepper to taste
  • parmesan/romano/asiago - optional but tasty!
This recipe can be easily scaled! This is the amount I make if I'm cooking for 4 people or less. I can normally get two meals out of this amount. :D

You'll also need a large sauce pan and a nice sturdy spoon.

Step 2: Boiling + adding

Picture of boiling + adding
Bring the water to a boil and add the corn grits and salt. Stir this well!

Step 3: The slow part

Picture of the slow part
Polenta does take a while to cook. Once it's in the boiling water, turn the heat down to low.

Simmer this slowly, stirring frequently. When I say frequently, I mean it! Every 2-3 minutes is perfect. The corn grits suck up all the water pretty quick, but it still needs to cook for a while after so it can get stuck to the bottom of the pan really easily.

Within 20-25 minutes, it will be ready!

You'll know it's good and ready when dragging a spoon through it causes a channel that doesn't fill back up. Your spoon will also be able to stand up in it. :D
isonade11 months ago

hi, i'm from friuli, a region of italy where we use to eat polenta, like, anytime.

my two only advices are:
use a kitchen whisk while adding the corn to boiling water, to get a smoother dough.

use an antiaderent pan to avoid cleaning up after, cause the polenta will make a nice crust that won't stick to the pan, and makes a nice snack.

babybayrs1 year ago
Sounds great. Will try this one of these days. Thanks.
oilitright1 year ago
I love corn meal, grits, polenta or whatever you want to call it and prepared most any way you can think of and all kind of things can be added. One of my favorites is to add a couple beaten eggs towards the end of cooking and then break up some crisp cooked bacon on top and melted some cheese.

I buy my polenta/corngrits in bulk at WINCO
I'm lazy - I make polenta using my rice cooker.
I've had good luck with Golden Pheasant brand but not with two others I've tried.
Ha! I was cooking some right now! it's very common around south america. ¿have you tried making arepas?
jessyratfink (author)  Mad inventor1 year ago
I did try to make arepas a long time ago. I love eating them. :D

I couldn't find the right corn flour, though, only masa harina, so the texture was all wrong. Boo.

I had never heard of sopa paraguaya, so I googled it. That is the most un-soup soup ever. Haha! It sounds amazing though :D
right? I'm assuming when it was invented, the cooker was trying to make soup, but it solidified. The best flour for arepas is the PAN brand. there's a single instructable for arepas that uses that. maybe you can ask him/her where to buy it.
or sopa paraguaya? (translated: Paraguayan soup. it's nothing like a soup though)

those are just other ways to cook using corn flour (harina de maíz)

maan this brought me some childhood memories.. now I want sopa paraguaya :(
The most difficult thing for beginners is to dose the amount of flour vs water.
My mom (who left us five years ago, ninety-five years old) told me:
the salt (which should be the "sea salt", not that "thin" like in the photo) one must put after the water boils and let dissolve well.
You have to get down the flour slowly so that it does not form lumps,
and until the water is no longer able to absorb flour.
This is the right amount of flour respect water.
No other components for classic "polenta".

Then, when you have learned to do it well, you can add cheese, also different types.
For me the best is with "gorgonzola" cheese!
Buon appetito!
(Sorry for my english... I'm italian)
mole11 year ago
I tried making polenta a few months ago with the same package of corn grits you show. It came out very bitter. Any ideas as to what I did wrong?
Your grits may have gotten slightly scortched. The following article suggests that the grits were old:$GrainsCornmeal.pdf
"Freshly ground, whole cornmeal has the best, sweetest, full flavor of corn.
If whole cornmeal, flour, or grits have a bitter taste, it is a sign they are old and rancid and
should be thrown out."
Thanks, MyMenagerie! I had just bought the package, but maybe it had been stored somewhere hot in a warehouse somewhere. I did throw it out - figuring grits were just nasty by nature. I'll try again now that I know better, and next time save the package to return to the store if it's bitter.
Don't feel bad. I found out the hard way too, but with flour. I had some that smelled odd, and later I read an article that mentioned the smell. Before purchasing, check the expiration date on the bag and store in a cool, air-tight container. If you aren't going to use it often, you may consider a ziploc-type bag in the fridge. I should have with the afore mentioned flour.

Grits are normally not bitter. We eat them often. You can even add small amounts of sugar to them, but I don't know if polenta would be good sweet. I'll have to try it some time. One of my favorites is Garlic Shrimp Grits. Maybe I'll make an Instructable next time I cook them. They are FANTASTIC!!!
nadialtbr1 year ago
I'll definitely be making this! I add chopped fresh parsley and scallions to make it an herb filled dish. Thank you for the wonderful instructable.
Sounds good! Is it kind of like pasta?
pasta is made with grain flour, polenta with mais flour.
I think you mean wheat verses corn flour. Pasta can be made of cereal (a grass) or grain (a seed), and typically, pasta is made of Durum wheat (a high-protein, low-gluten variety) and often of the semolina (or purified middlings, or endosperm) of the durum wheat. Boiled semolina turns into porridge or Cream of Wheat, and broadly speaking, meal produced from grains other than wheat may also be referred to as semolina, e.g. rice semolina, or corn semolina (more commonly known as grits in the U.S.). Nutritionally, anyway, it is "kind of like pasta" for sure. :D
jessyratfink (author)  Penolopy Bulnick1 year ago
Kinda! The flavor's much stronger, though. :D
I found a Venitian Lasagne recipe that called for polenta and could not find any anywhere. After finding out what polenta is, I used corn meal the same way that JessyRatfink uses grits. I never knew you could use grits. Thanks for sharing!
blkhawk1 year ago
Thank you for posting! I have never tried polenta. This is now something new to try.
Okey, I'm curious. I never in life tried polenta. But now, I wil! Thanks for a fantastic instructable, Jessy!
jessyratfink (author)  M.C. Langer1 year ago
I have a whole pan of lasagna made with it now - I can bring you in some tomorrow if you like :D
It will be fantastic!!!! Thanks Jessy! :-)
artfulann1 year ago
I love it- fancy grits!