Sunday, March 14, 2010


I want to talk about polenta, the favourite of Northern Italians. Most people don't associate polenta with porridge, but really it is the Northern Italian equivalent of porridge. Traditionally made with Chestnut flour.
In many recipes, the instructions are to cook polenta for anywhere from one to three hours. In Italy, apparently they have special implements which stir the polenta for you. I have heard anecdotally that Australian polenta is softer and you don't need to cook it for long. I can vouch for that.
I cook polenta on a regular basis and my family love it. But the measurements are intuitive, so this is a hard one to put in a recipe. The main thing with polenta is to get your water to polenta ratio right. I would generally say it's a 1:4 or 1:5 ratio. (That is polenta:liquid)

Best Polenta Recipe

1-2 tsp salt
1 litre water
250 gm coarse cornmeal (Polenta, not instant. I prefer a whole grain polenta.)
Rosemary (optional)
Small amount of stock cube or Bragg's seasoning (optional, available at good delicatessan or organic food shop)
50 gm Finely grated Parmesan (Italian or Australian and not prepackaged grated parmesan)
50gm Butter
Extra butter for serving bowl

Spoon whisk (available from hospitality stores - see photo)


1. Put salt in water and bring to boil.

2. Add rosemary or stock if you like.

3. When boiling, take off hot plate and pour in polenta in steady stream, stirring all the while. Use the spoon whisk to stop any lumps from forming.

4. Return to heat (low) and continue stirring for at least 20 minutes. (You may need to use a simmer ring to stop the polenta from bubbling.)

5. Take off the heat and add butter and parmesan cheese. Mix through until all the butter is melted.

6. Pour into buttered bowl, or spoon directly onto plate.(Make sure you fill the bowl with water immediately.)

I serve polenta with the following:
  • Chicken cacciatore (or similar, something with sauce)
  • Spinach cooked with tomato
  • Eggplant Parmigiana

Jorge loves polenta.. see photo.

If you have polenta left over, it's great fried in olive oil the next day. Just remember to cook it slowly, don't need a lot of oil.