Polenta is one of those side dishes that I heard about long before I ever tried cooking it. “It takes too much time”, “It will turn out clumpy”, “you need to make sure you’re stirring it the entire time you’re cooking it”. So for years I would never try to make it at home and would think of it as a restaurant only dish. When I did make it at home the first time it did end up clumpy and gross, but I’m not the type to give up. With a few tricks, I’ve been able to make perfect polenta each time and am happy to share my Creamy Parmesan Polenta recipe with you.
What is polenta
Polenta is cornmeal boiled in stock so that it gets a delicious, thick, creamy texture. You can use yellow or white cornmeal to make it (there’s no difference in taste) and it’s a great way to use up the cornmeal in your cupboard that you got that one time you made cornbread from scratch. I like to serve my polenta warm so that it has a porridge like consistency. But you can also let it cool and solidify into a loaf that can be baked, fried or grilled.
Tips for cooking polenta
Polenta can be a bit tricky to make but here are the tips I found that worked the best through trial and error
- Cook with chicken or vegetable stock for the most flavor, don’t use plain old water
- Bring liquid to a boil before adding cornmeal. Once cornmeal is added bring down to a simmer
- Use a sifter to slowly stir in the cornmeal. It will clump if not added in slowly.
- Stir consistently while adding cornmeal
- Mise en place is key, grate cheese and garlic while water is boiling and premeasure the cornmeal
What to pair with polenta
I’ve been experimenting a lot with polenta lately and have been added it to all the things. My favorite by far is having polenta as a side to stewed or braised meats. It goes great with all thing bbq and Italian, especially with a sausage ragu. I’ve even gone a bit experimental and tried roasted mushrooms on top of my polenta. It was delicious!
You can also stir in fresh herbs to the polenta, switch up the cheese or add additional seasoning to give it a unique twist. Polenta is pretty forgiving in terms of flavoring, so go crazy!
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Make it a Meal
- Maple Glazed Roasted Carrots
- Balsamic Bacon Roasted Brussel Sprouts
- Roasted Broccoli and Garlic
- Other Side Options
Other Great Beef Dinners
Creamy Parmesan Polenta
Polenta doesn't need to be a restaurant only food, make this easy Creamy Parmesan Polenta at home in under 20 minutes!
- 4 Cups Chicken Stock
- 1 Cup Cornmeal
- 1 Cup Parmesan Cheese Grated
- 3 Cloves Garlic Minced
- 1/4 Cup Heavy Cream
- 2 Tbs Butter
Bring stock to a boil in a saucepan. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer.
Using a sifter slowly add in the cornmeal, stirring continuously. Once all of the cornmeal is added let simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes.
Stir in parmesan cheese, garlic, cream and butter. season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve warm for porridge consistency polenta or let cool to have a firm loaf like consistency.