Introduction: 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.

Step 1: 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

Bring the water to a boil and add the corn grits and salt. Stir this well!

Step 3: 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

Step 4: Finishing

Once it's nice and thick, turn off the heat. Add in a couple tablespoons of butter and some pepper. You can also add some hard cheese at this point!

Stir this in so the butter is distributed throughout. :)

At this point you can serve it as-is with sauce on top or pour it into a bowl that's been greased and let it cool for a few minutes and cut it into slices and then serve!

You can also pour it into a rectangular or square container and let it chill in the fridge for nice slices for lasagna or frying. It's all up to you. :D

Comments

author
Slippery arm made it! (author)2016-07-30

Mm polenta I remember when I ate straight from a polenta log once

author
isonade made it! (author)2014-04-15

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.

author
babybayrs made it! (author)2013-06-08

Sounds great. Will try this one of these days. Thanks.

author
oilitright made it! (author)2013-06-05

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

author
hardwarejunkie made it! (author)2013-06-05

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.

author
Mad inventor made it! (author)2013-06-04

Ha! I was cooking some right now! it's very common around south america. ¿have you tried making arepas?

author
jessyratfink made it! (author)jessyratfink2013-06-05

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

author
Mad inventor made it! (author)Mad inventor2013-06-05

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.

author
Mad inventor made it! (author)Mad inventor2013-06-04

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 :(

author
geppetto1955 made it! (author)2013-06-05

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)

author
mole1 made it! (author)2013-05-30

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?

author
MyMenagerie made it! (author)MyMenagerie2013-06-04

Your grits may have gotten slightly scortched. The following article suggests that the grits were old:
https://extension.usu.edu/fsne/files/uploads/2012%20Food%20Basics%20Lessons/Grains/F$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."

author
mole1 made it! (author)mole12013-06-04

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.

author
MyMenagerie made it! (author)MyMenagerie2013-06-04

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!!!

author
nadialtbr made it! (author)2013-06-04

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.

author
Penolopy Bulnick made it! (author)2013-05-29

Sounds good! Is it kind of like pasta?

author
1001progetti made it! (author)1001progetti2013-05-30

pasta is made with grain flour, polenta with mais flour.

author
Pignanelli made it! (author)Pignanelli2013-06-04

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

author
jessyratfink made it! (author)jessyratfink2013-05-29

Kinda! The flavor's much stronger, though. :D

author
MyMenagerie made it! (author)2013-06-04

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!

author
blkhawk made it! (author)2013-05-30

Thank you for posting! I have never tried polenta. This is now something new to try.

author
M.C. Langer made it! (author)2013-05-29

Okey, I'm curious. I never in life tried polenta. But now, I wil! Thanks for a fantastic instructable, Jessy!

author
jessyratfink made it! (author)jessyratfink2013-05-29

I have a whole pan of lasagna made with it now - I can bring you in some tomorrow if you like :D

author
M.C. Langer made it! (author)M.C. Langer2013-05-29

It will be fantastic!!!! Thanks Jessy! :-)

author
artfulann made it! (author)2013-05-29

I love it- fancy grits!

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Bio: part of the Instructables Design Studio by day, stitch witch by night. follow me on instagram @makingjiggy to see what i'm working on! ^_^
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