Polenta – soft or crispy

For someone who grew up thinking mashed potatoes were the epitome of comfort food, polenta has been a real revelation–the range of textures and the depth of flavor make it one of my favorite starches to put under ragus or to serve on the side with grilled meats.


4 cups chicken stock (no or low-salt) or water

1 cup water (to be added to stock or water for a total of 5 cups)

1 cup polenta (not instant)

salt to taste (use 2t if only liquid is water, less if main liquid is chicken stock that has salt)

¼ cup grated parmegian reggiano

1 T. unsalted butter


  1.  Bring the 5 cups of chicken stock/ water to a boil in a large pot or pan.
  2.  Slowly add the polenta, stirring all the while with a whisk or wooden spoon to prevent lumps.
  3.  Reduce heat to low and continue stirring until polenta thickens (about 5 minutes).
  4.  With heat on lowest setting, continue cooking, stirring every few minutes so the polenta doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan, for 20-30 minutes or until all the grains are cooked and soft. If it becomes too stiff and dry, add a little more water.
  5.  Add the parmegian reggiano and, once it is fully incorporated, taste for and correct salt.
  6.  Stir in the butter.

Polenta can be served as is (soft) with a topping of tomato sauce, shredded meat, sautéed vegetables, or even just more parmegian cheese.  It can also be spooned onto a foil-covered or greased flat pan (like a cookie sheet) and cooled.  It can then be cut into pieces and sautéed until browned in either olive oil or butter or (carefully) grilled.

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I am an enthusiastic home cook. I started a blog when my older daughter lived in Paris and had a tiny kitchen, few utensils and a stove with no temperature markings. The purpose was to help her (and eventually her sister) make many of the dishes they love and to learn how to make some new ones. They are now both terrific cooks, but all of us can use a new (or even an old beloved) recipe once in a while.

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