Simple Polenta


I’ve been a busy boy the last few weeks, hunkering down finishing a project that’s I’m working on night-and-day. And unfortunately, it’s not even allowed me time to go to the market to do much food shopping. Quelle horreur! So I’ve been raiding my freezer (which is actually a good thing…) and rummaging through my cabinets in search of things that I can sustain myself on.

red corn polenta

I had a couple of bags of beautiful stone-ground polenta that I got in Gascony last fall and decided that I’d cook up a big batch to keep on hand. When I lived in California, I ate a lot of polenta because I am a major fan of anything and everything with cornmeal. It’s not as common here and while you can find it in most supermarkets, it’s often the instant variety. And while some people say it’s pretty good, I tried it once and it’s like comparing mashed potatoes made with those powdery dried flakes that come in a box with mashed potatoes made from real, honest-to-goodness potatoes. To me, there’s just no comparison.

fresh herbs for polenta

I have found coarse polenta by chance in supermarkets and other places, and it’s most prevalent in the Savoie and the Jura regions of France as it’s something people enjoy in the more mountainous areas, I suppose. (I used that leftover instant polenta to make crisp topping.) And I stock up when I find it, like when I was thrilled to find these bags of lovely polenta in the southwest. My only complaint it that I wish I had gotten more.

So I pulled out a pot, boiled up some water, and made a big batch of polenta to feed myself for the next few days. You can leave it nature, or add some aromatic fresh herbs as you please. I had some sage, flat-leaf parsley, and thyme on hand, which are a nice addition along with a pat of salted butter melting on top, which makes a nice, simple lunch. (Although I have been eyeing the take-out pizzas made down the street, that are looking better every day.)

polenta recipe

Interestingly, some people like plain polenta for breakfast with butter and maple syrup, so depending on how many people you’re feeding, or how engrossed you are in a project, with this recipe, you’ll have some leftovers in case you wake up the next day craving more.


Print Recipe
4 to 6 servings
Don’t be tempted to boil the polenta to get it to cook faster; the slow absorption gives it a smoother, silkier texture. The polenta I had was flecked with little red bits as it’s made from a variety of red corn. You can find polenta in well-stocked supermarkets, Italian specialty shops, natural food stores, and I’ve even found it in markets that sell Indian foods here in Paris up behind the Gare du Nord, labeled semoule de maïs. Soft polenta is especially good with braised meats and stews as it works well with sauces long-cooked dishes. It’s also great with stewed greens or sautéed mushrooms, cooked in plenty of butter. Or even plain, with a dollop of mascarpone on top. Some folks use chicken stock in place of some or all of the water, which is an option. If you want to make firm polenta that you can grill, use 1 cup (140g) of polenta and when it’s fully cooked, spread it into a greased baking sheet and let it cool. When firm, cut into slices, brush with oil, and grill.
3 cups (0.75L) water
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (105g) polenta
2/3 cup (60g) grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese
optional: 2-3 teaspoons minced fresh herbs
2 tablespoons butter, salted or unsalted
1. Bring the water and salt to a boil in a saucepan.
2. Whisk in the polenta. When the water comes back to a boil, reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting and continue to whisk the polenta frequently (more frequently toward the end of cooking), until it’s thick. It will take about 45 minutes. If the heat on your stove does not go low enough to simmer it gently, use a flame-tamer.
3. Remove from heat and whisk in the cheese, herbs (if using), and butter.

Storage: Polenta should be served warm. It can be refrigerated and kept for up to three days. Reheat it on the stovetop or in a microwave oven, adding additional liquid, if necessary.

two bags of polenta

Related Recipes and Links

Polenta Crisp Topping

Gluten-free Polenta Mini Pizzas (Perfect Pantry)

Cornmeal Biscotti

Bob’s Red Mill Organic Polenta (Amazon)

Butter-Poached Shrimp and Grits (Ruhlman)

Cornmeal Cookies

Pumpkin Polenta with Tomatillo-Avocado Salsa (Gluten-free Goddess)

Cornmeal vs. Grits vs. Polenta vs. Masa (Food 52)

Farina Bóna (Swiss Cornmeal) Ice Cream

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  • March 22, 2013 11:13am

    Polenta is a comfort food for me. Have you tried mixing polenta with buckwheat flour? There is an Italian dish called polenta taragna, in which cornmeal is mixed with buckwheat, and the combination is irresistible–nutty, toasty, earthy.

    By the way, based on your recommendation I’ve tried Breizh Café, and their galettes were fantastic. I also picked up some buckwheat flour, which turned out to be excellent. So, now I can enjoy galettes anytime.

    • March 22, 2013 12:27pm
      David Lebovitz

      I make that as well (in Italy, you can buy the polenta and buckwheat already mixed) – although since this was red corn and had the little flakes, I wanted to keep it “pure.”

      Glad you liked Breizh, and they do have excellent buckwheat flour as well : )

  • March 22, 2013 12:24pm

    It made me feel at home.


  • March 22, 2013 12:25pm

    I may have to give this a try, especially for my gluten intolerant friends. Thanks for the post!

  • ron shapley
    March 22, 2013 1:38pm

    Yeah Dave………….meatballs and marinara or bolognese with polenta….To die for !!

  • March 22, 2013 1:48pm

    Mmmm, nothing beats a good polenta. This looks amazing! I couldn’t help but wonder about the comment above adding polenta to bolognese, sounds to die for. I’ll have to try that combo the next time I make polenta!

  • March 22, 2013 2:06pm

    Whoa, it’s Lunchtime, I’m starving and looking at your pictures! Now the damage ist done: I want some of that polenta now. Ultimate comfort food!

  • March 22, 2013 2:23pm

    I just love polenta. It was on the menu a lot when I was growing up. Comfort food, indeed. I am intrigued by this red cirn variety. I have never come across it. Thanks for the intro!

  • Peter
    March 22, 2013 2:26pm

    Try the rustic polenta from Anson Mills made from Italian heirloom red trentino. They have conventional white and yellow polenta too but the rustic rocks. Their rice and grains are the best!

  • Claire
    March 22, 2013 2:45pm

    Growing up in the Southern US, I was raised on grits which is, I guess, the US version of polenta. I feel the same way about instant grits that you do about instant polenta. Abomination! Nothing better for breakfast (or anytime for that matter) than a bowl of hot grits and butter. I’ve found if you want truly creamy grits, and this would probably work for polenta too, is to cook them in milk. A bit of salty butter and you have heaven in a bowl!

  • March 22, 2013 2:48pm

    This explains why my polenta is never creamy and smooth. I’ve always been in a rush to finish it and cooked it on moderate heat.

    By the way, one thing I love mixing in is freshly grated halloumi cheese. The salt and mint go well with the sweetness of the corn.

  • Rachel
    March 22, 2013 3:26pm

    I love soft polenta. Especially for breakfast. I make it savory though, with a little bit of cheese melted and an egg cooked over-easy on top. I’ll often add some spinach or other greens to the polenta and leftover roasted veggies if I have any. I agree that adding a bit of milk when cooking – I usually add just a splash at the very end – makes for a very creamy dish.

  • March 22, 2013 3:33pm


    Any other grilling suggestions? Every time I try grilling the polenta it sticks to the grates and falls apart– even when oiled?

    I’ve browned the cut pieces of polenta in a pan with some butter and they are mighty fine too! Keep up with your great content and beautifully, simple recipes.

  • March 22, 2013 4:17pm
    David Lebovitz

    Jonathan: I often pan-fry them, too. But to grill them, you need a pretty well-seasoned grill – which is what I used to have when I lived in California and did it. Probably coating them with non-stick spray helps, if they’re not seasoned well.

    Peter: Thanks – they’re not available here but I know their grains and such are of very good quality. And I agree about the really rustic ones being the best-tasting. I love the polenta I bought at the market, shown in the post. I also like Bob’s and Golden Pheasant in the US.

    Rachel: I like poached eggs on top, too. Especially with bacon and bitter greens!

    Marios: A lot of people rush it and it really needs to be cooked slowly so that the coarse grains can swell slowly. If I know I am going to make polenta later in the day, sometimes I will soak it in water for a few hours before cooking to shorten the time. Some people also bake it in the oven, which I hear works well, although I’ve not tried it.

  • March 22, 2013 4:24pm


    This may be a bit of a silly question, but what is the difference between polenta (the ingredient, rather than your buttery dish) and cornmeal?
    Is it in the processing? Or is it a pasta vs spaghetti equivalent where one is a generic categorization?
    But then the photo of the polenta/cornmeal you used says ‘coarse cornmeal polenta.’ So does that mean you can get other non-cornmeal type polenta (umm..) or is that evil tautology?

    confused.. ><

    • March 22, 2013 5:01pm
      David Lebovitz

      Most sources seem to say that polenta is just a name for coarsely ground cornmeal which would mean that the bag (shown) is technically correct. That’s from an Indian market here in Paris and they probably have to cover all their bases for an international audience. (Although in French is says it is “medium” cornmeal, but in the other languages it says it is “large” – but it looks more small-to-medium to me.) I’ve also seen it called “corn grits.” I linked at the end of the post to an article about the difference in some of the ground corn products out there as well.

      • Laura
        April 7, 2013 6:16pm

        You use cornmeal to obtain polenta: wrongly and often confused. So they are deeply different: would you ever say that ‘grits’ means ‘cornmeal’? :)

        • April 7, 2013 6:37pm
          David Lebovitz

          This is the brand we normally get in France (the non-instant variety.) I’m not sure how it’s labeled for sale in the United States.

  • March 22, 2013 4:33pm

    For some reason this “speckled” red corn polenta looks much more appealing than regular mono-colored. I have a feeling it tastes better too… Especially with a decent amount of butter on it, right? ;)

  • March 22, 2013 4:57pm

    That mixture looks great with the red corn bits.

    Being gluten-free, I make a lot of polenta both as a starchy side dish and as the base for pizzas. I like the Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Corn Grits/Polenta because it cooks up pretty quickly, but isn’t an instant mix and still tastes like the real deal.

    I’ll have to give it a try for breakfast too.

  • March 22, 2013 5:17pm

    my piedmontese father looked so bemused when he first encountered “ready-made” polenta packed like sausage on a super market shelf. he and his brothers grew up eating it stirred in a giant tub, then dumped steaming into a linen-lined sink, to be cut with piano wire and sauced with sage-y squirrel stew. he cannot possibly imagine eating it any other way.

  • Bebe
    March 22, 2013 5:21pm

    I have a hunch that polenta is similar to what my Western Pennsylvania Mother used to make, calling it “corn meal mush”. Hers may have had egg in it, but I was never involved in its making so cannot say. She put it into a buttered loaf pan where it firmed up. Then she sliced it and fried it in butter until it was crispy light brown around the edges, and served it with maple syrup.

    I was not crazy about it.

    But corn meal is more interesting to me now – how our tastes change! – and I may have to give polenta a try. The texture of the larger grind cornmeal sounds more appealing than the smoothness of fine grind. And I would like it with savories rather than sweets.

    Thanks for this interesting post, David.

  • Laura
    March 22, 2013 5:30pm

    with butter and maple syrup for breakfast? Oh my!

  • Bebe
    March 22, 2013 5:31pm

    Something amusing this way comes. Googling corn meal mush, I found this:

    “Thee the soft nations round the warm Levant
    Palanta call, the French of course Polante;
    E’en in thy native regions how I blush
    To hear the Pennsylvanians call thee Mush!
    On Hudson’s banks, while men of Belgic spawn
    Insult and eat thee by the name suppawn.
    All spurious appellations; void of truth:
    I’ve better known thee from my earliest youth,
    Thy name is Hasty-Pudding!

    The Hasty-Pudding, Joel Barlow, 1793

  • Sharon
    March 22, 2013 5:32pm

    The biggest difference – to me – between the polenta I can get here in Germany and my beloved southern grits is that grits are from white corn (usually) and polenta is uniformly yellow. There’s a slight difference in flavor and frankly I find the white somehow more delicate. This will be a good one to try.

  • Betsy
    March 22, 2013 5:33pm

    I’ll be in Paris this September. One of my friends is Vegan. Any restaurant suggestions?

  • March 22, 2013 5:35pm

    one of the best comfort foods I know…. and makes me dream of Italy every time!
    It’s NOT easy to find here at all; Auchan where I shop has stocked it, but mostly I bring it with me when I’m in Switzerland (la Suisse has a very important community of 1st, 2nd and 3rd generation Italians…) and I’m not as negative towards the ‘quick polenta’ as you are – but IDO mix the water with milk, add a generous dollop of butter and cook it really, really slowly. At the very beginning of my cookery adventures I even once (once!) bought a ‘polenta roll’, nearly finished cooked polenta in a plastic foil, rolled like a fat saucisse…. THAT’s disgusting!
    But when you love polenta as much as I do, I think, you’d eat it any way… and the tiny red flakes in your photos look just the part. I feel like hurrying in the kitchen and doing some light cooking now. Mille grazie David.

  • March 22, 2013 5:39pm

    My favorite polentas tend to be the super creamy fine ground (and undoubtedly cream and butter-laden) varieties. This course ground version sounds interesting though, I imagine it would be good with poached eggs and maybe a side of cooked greens for breakfast?

  • March 22, 2013 5:41pm

    David – an ‘encore’. You replied to Marios:
    Marios: A lot of people rush it and it really needs to be cooked slowly so that the coarse grains can swell slowly. If I know I am going to make polenta later in the day, sometimes I will soak it in water for a few hours before cooking to shorten the time. Some people also bake it in the oven, which I hear works well, although I’ve not tried it
    Soaking it…. that sounds interesting and clever! Will try that too – and then, I suppose, you’d use the ‘soaking water’ for the cooking, right? Thanks – you’re such a treasure with all those extra ideas.
    PS: Since when are comments being moderated?

  • March 22, 2013 5:45pm

    I was raised on polenta with hunks of melted queso fresco inside and a tomato sauce on top. I love it whether sweet or savory. But though I can find not instant, it´s never as pretty looking as yours with the flecks!

  • March 22, 2013 5:48pm
    David Lebovitz

    Betsey: There’s a post on vegetarian restaurants in Paris, with a few vegan ones in there – including a new “burger” joint, with no meat!

    Kiki: Yes, I use the soaking liquid to cook it as well. For info on comment policies, you can click on the “Comment Policy” link just above the comment box and that explains more.

    mlle paradis: I’ve not tried the polenta that comes pre-cooked in the plastic tube, but it’s pretty simple to make yourself. (Like buying frozen rice or canned carrots – neither seems like a lot of trouble to make quickly.) But I think someone once told me it was pretty good. But I’ll let someone else try it and tell me ; )

  • March 22, 2013 6:24pm

    As I was reading this, I just finished a bowl of yellow corn grits with a pile of scrambled eggs and harvarti on top.

    Once in awhile I buy the pre-made polenta that comes in packages like cookie dough but bigger around.

    It’s fun to slice it up and fry in butter – seasoned or not – until crispy.

    Of course like most things one can DIY however sometimes it is fun to “cheat”

  • Janet Sims
    March 22, 2013 6:35pm

    I have a terrific recipe for oven-baked polenta with parmesan and butter. SUPER simple – you only stir it once – and delicious.

  • Philip
    March 22, 2013 6:36pm

    I grew up eating polenta, and if well-made, it’s one of those foods that are greater than the sum of their parts– coarse cornmeal, water, salt. It’s also a classic poor people’s food, a way to stretch a little bit of ragu or stew, but it’s also beset by the myth that it needs to be stirred for 45 minutes. It just needs occasional attention over a low fire, and it will taste like you’ve added butter and cheese when in fact, you haven’t.

    Instant polenta’s actually ok and my mother used it for decades. It’s just not the same– it has a much more homogenous, soft texture– but a lot of Italian housewives wouldn’t have it any other way.

    The oven method works as well, especially for a firm polenta. I’ve found that after cooling completely, any excess water not absorbed rises to the top and can be easily poured off, with the result being a very firm but creamy polenta that can be sliced and used in layered dishes or fried.

    I like to alternate layers of overlapping firm polenta with sauteed mushrooms and bechamel, top it with cheese and some butter, and bake until until bubbling and hot– a great casserole for a buffet. If you use tomato or a creamy pesto sauce instead of bechamel, your gluten-free friends will thank you.

  • Sandy Hope
    March 22, 2013 6:51pm

    Just last week I made a some creamy oven baked polenta from the NYT recipe. I’ve been using the instant and missed the hearty type I grew up with. The oven baked was really good and so different from the instant. David, do you think that stove top tastes different than the oven baked? It was so easy and creamy, now I want some more!

    When I was young my nona used to cook it a little stiffer and pour it onto a large board. There would be a sauce poured on top of this large cornmeal mound and we would scrape off bits and eat with spoons all gathered around the large board. My favorite meal from childhood.

  • sarahb1313
    March 22, 2013 7:04pm

    So…. don’t know much about slow cookers, but bought one recently. Worked well to make Dulce de Leche from milk and sugar (scratch).

    Any idea if this would be a good application so one would not have to tend to the stove?? If I am multi tasking a meal in the kitchen, no problem to stir, but I love polenta so much that I usually only have time to make the instant.

    (aside- spouse commented one night when I served instant cheesy polenta, “Did these mashed potatoes come from a box?” I have NEVER made anything instant except polenta, made me reconsider….)

  • March 22, 2013 7:13pm

    Speaking of polenta and maple syrup, one of my favorite treats is polenta with sharp Vermont cheddar (preferably Grafton 2 years or older), pan-fried in butter with maple syrup on top.

  • March 22, 2013 7:15pm

    I love polenta, it’s comfort in a bowl!

  • March 22, 2013 7:34pm

    Polenta is such comfort food for me, especially in these (lingering) winter months. Thank you for sharing – I can’t wait to make this!

  • DDP
    March 22, 2013 8:10pm

    Hm, I’m intrigued by the polenta/buckwheat combo mentioned above. You are speaking of Kasha, correct? Would you cook them separately and then mix together? Sounds lovely. I love polenta with a bit of bleu cheese mixed in.

  • Patricia
    March 22, 2013 8:35pm

    “Interestingly, some people eat polenta for breakfast…” Yes David we do, and did. I am a little older than you (maybe twice as) and I remember my childhood breakfasts often were some rendition of cornmeal “mush”. One morning it would be served as a hot cereal. What didn’t go into our bowls went onto a flat surface and the next morning that was cut into logs and fried, to be served with our eggs. That was in the 1930 -1940s.
    Interesting, though, my best friend in those days was Italian, from a seriously Italian family. They had a garden with all kinds of Italian veggies and had a second kitchen in the basement. The second kitchen was common with the Italian household in those days. It was used for canning and sometimes when it was just too hot to cook upstairs. But though I enjoyed a lot of Italian meals with my friend’s family, I never encountered polenta, cornmeal or anything similar. Perhaps it just wasn’t available in those days.

  • AZD
    March 22, 2013 8:45pm

    I love polenta and resisted making it other than for dinner parties or special occasions as standing in front of the stove stirring for an hour doesn’t fit in with my weekday schedule. Then I discovered the Russ Parson’s (LA Times) method and I make it during the week regularly. 4 cups of water to 1 cup of polenta, a bit of salt in a casserole dish, stir, put in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven add butter, herbs, cheese etc., stir, put back in the oven for 15 minutes – PERFECT polenta.

  • Swisskris
    March 22, 2013 9:10pm

    I grew up eating polenta. We generally sliced up the cold left overs, dipped them in beaten eggs & fried them in some butter. You then serve it with yummy fruit jam and powdered sugar.. Rather like French toast.

  • March 22, 2013 9:25pm

    Recently bought a bag of a beautiful Italian polenta and we all took turns at the stove to keep stirring for about 40 minutes. Poured it out, let it cool,then grilled it and topped with a mushroom ragout, oven dried baby plum tomatoes with harissa and finally some torn mozzarella. Bit of fresh basil and a slick of olive oil. What a lunch.

    By the way am in Paris at the moment and eating our way through your Rue Montorgeuil suggestions. Loving the baguette cereal from Boulangerie de Monge, the Tom Cruise man at La Fermette must have thought me rather strange staring at him to determine if he was the one. Nevermind, We were even more taken up with deciding between 24 and 36 month Comte .Kayser’s bread great too. Still got much too eat over next 2 weeks.

  • Glenda
    March 22, 2013 9:56pm

    David, you are amazing! I read your blog religiously and am learning how to be a pretty good cook. Your Shashuka (older recipe) was fantastic. I’ve posted this Polenta recipe and the Shashuka on Pinterest and facebook with the message that your blog is amazing. Thank you so much for your generosity of time, effort and talent.

  • Alicia
    March 22, 2013 11:09pm

    Thank you, David! My ancestors were Italian so I always liked Polenta. I found out that a great way to cook it without losing an eye when it boils on the stove is by following the instructions in The Joy of Cooking. All this is no good to me know as I found out that I am allergic to corn. Apparently many people suffer from this and sometimes they don’t even know it. The allergy might be due to the big increase in the use of corn by the food industry as it is fed to chickens and is also used to sweeten most beverages.

  • Vicki B
    March 22, 2013 11:22pm

    The most decadent polenta I had the good fortune to be served in a restaurant was polenta with marscapone and apricot jam.

  • Pamela
    March 23, 2013 1:10am

    I grind popcorn in my VitaMix to get polenta, and different textures of cornmeal. Is popcorn available there?

  • Gloria Jaecks
    March 23, 2013 2:52am

    Try adding a good sauce and chunks of sweet and hot sausage…a tummy and heart-warming lunch or supper.

  • March 23, 2013 6:28am

    I’ve never tried polenta before. Shocker, I know. This looks so comforting. Must try soon!

  • March 23, 2013 11:20am

    Your stone ground polenta looks delicious. Have you got a good recipe for mamaliga by any chance? I have been trying to reproduce it since visiting eastern Europe but nothing I’ve tried comes out right.

  • March 23, 2013 12:56pm

    In Italy, they make it fried. It’s very good too !

  • Sylvia
    March 23, 2013 2:40pm

    Bebe — my Pennsylvania Dutch grandmother made cornmeal mush, too. No egg. After it sat overnight in a loaf pan it was good and firm and she’d slice it and fry it in bacon grease and serve it with syrup. It wasn’t usually maple syrup, but homemade syrup made from brown sugar and water finished with a pat of butter. Or sometimes the fried mush (that’s what it was called) was topped with some good molasses.

    I was very surprised when Grandma’s country cornmeal mush got all sophisticated and started calling itself “polenta”.

  • Carolyn
    March 23, 2013 4:02pm

    Polenta is something I’ve just discovered this year. I make mine with 1/2 milk, 1/2 water. Just like risotto, the stirring is meditative… wonderful.

    One question — my leftover polenta always sets up and the only way to enjoy it the next day is to cut it up and fry it. Is there any way to keep it creamy overnight, or get it back to its original creamy consistency?

  • Bebe
    March 23, 2013 5:03pm

    Thank you, Sylvia. No, there was no egg. Just a little lapse going pretty far back in memory.

    The little poem, vintage 1793, that I stumbled onto yesterday and posted, tells us that cornmeal mush/polenta/whatever the name goes ‘way back in many cultures.

  • Virginia
    March 23, 2013 6:20pm

    Greetings David!
    I made your polenta recipe last night (here in Oregon, bought Bob’s Red Mill in the bulk, $1.89 per pound). I served it with black bean chili–recipe from Deborah Madison, green chard sauteed in olive oil w/loads of fresh garlic, and at your suggestion, mushrooms sauteed in a lot of butter. Oh my goodness! Not exactly Italian, but so delicious! Thank you for this very basic recipe + serving recommendations. Thank you for your beautiful blog! Thank you for your wonderful cookbooks! Sincerely, ~V from Eugene.

  • March 23, 2013 8:33pm

    Looks great! I’ve never made polenta so this one seems like a good one to start with. I like the idea of heating it up for breakfast the next day.

  • Alessandra
    March 23, 2013 10:31pm

    lovely story; I imagine your Italian friends were from the South, if they never had polenta, since it is strictly a northern food. In fact, southern Italians call northern Italians ‘polentoni’ because they eat, or used to eat, lots of polenta.

  • March 24, 2013 12:14am

    I love polenta! Sylvia, polenta is no more snobbish or sophisticated than cornmeal mush, grits, mamaglia or any other national or regional variant. It was the food of the poor in northern Italy and other Alpine (and some Balkan) regions. An old Friulano Resistance fighter I interviewed was amused by it becoming a “fashionable” food. People who were too poor to eat wheaten bread ate polenta.

    My Friulano friend is dead now, but he died in his bed at a very advanced age, living most of his life on borrowed time after close calls with Italian fascists and Nazis..

    David, I live in Petite Italie, Montréal, so I can get some lovely rustic polenta, but I’ve never happened to see your red corn variety.

    I knew your blog before and have always loved your writing (though I don’t eat sweets) and this time it is because I came across your savoury ricotta tart, which I’ll be making for friends soon.

  • Sylvia
    March 24, 2013 2:07am

    lagatta — I know polenta isn’t snobby. It’s just that from the time I was a kid, cornmeal mush was country poor people food that most Americans didn’t eat and they’d never heard of polenta. In the 80s when Italian food good really popular, polenta became very chic in the U.S. It made me smile to think of my extremely unchic grandmother and imagine what she would have said about going to an expensive restaurant and paying a high price for her “fried mush”.

  • March 24, 2013 6:29am

    I was living in Phnom Penh when I ate polenta for the first time. It was the grilled kind and I loved it promptly. Now that I’m back in the Philippines, I still try to eat it when I can.

  • March 24, 2013 9:07am

    Here in the South (US), I’m sure you know we make grits in many of the same ways Europeans cook polenta. I have bags of a varigated corn called “speckled heart” grits. Has a lovely, nutty flavor and is (are?) especially tasty with gruyere cheese in them.

  • Marissa
    March 24, 2013 3:21pm

    David, what is the brand of the pot in your photos? I’ve been looking for one with a thick handle. Thanks!

    • March 24, 2013 5:19pm
      David Lebovitz

      It’s a vintage Le Creuset. I don’t think they are made anymore, but I like the color and heft.

  • Colleen
    March 24, 2013 3:36pm

    Thank you for this! I made it for breakfast this morning, using half milk and minus the cheese. It was just delicious on this freezing cold morning.

  • Bebe
    March 24, 2013 5:48pm

    Fried mush was home-cooking, comfort food, but hardly “poor people food”. In Western Pennsylvania it was served in some pretty upmarket homes.

    In my longish life, I have found that the very wealthy eat a lot of comfort food. They are not the trendy gourmets one would think. Witness the longtime favorite dish at “21” in New York: chicken hash. And there is nothing “gourmet” about that dish at all. Except its price.

  • Jeff
    March 25, 2013 5:53am

    I think adding aromatic fresh herbs will give a better dining experience.

  • March 25, 2013 10:31am

    Interesting to read these comments since I’ve been eating polenta for years and for me it was a food that I ate when I wanted to be reminded of home.

  • March 26, 2013 2:00am

    Hello, thanks for the reply- I have to try this asap, while the weather remains cold. Would I just keep whisking until the polenta reaches the consistency I like?

    Oh oh, because you are the sole instigator for this, I just have to mention that I’m in France atm (sitting in Meribel) and delights or delights I have found the fabled Mont d’Or, you so kindly wrote about a while back, in a regional products shop (also Reblochon)!!! Indeed I was the happiest thing trotting back to the chalet clutching my little precious round and cannot wait for my first gooey mouthful. Despite being supposedly Spring already the shop here seems to have a sizeable stack of them remaining, so give a shout if you would like some sent to you.

  • grace
    March 28, 2013 4:26pm

    I’m enthusiastically seconding the bake method that AZD describes. I used to use the Hazan stir every 10 mins method but no more. Everyone I know who has tried baking sticks with it: no cleanup and no attention needed means you can have polenta any time!

  • March 28, 2013 9:36pm

    This looks really good…I’ll have to try it.

  • March 30, 2013 9:34pm

    Look amazing!

  • April 5, 2013 1:40am

    Polenta used to be a staple food in the north of italy, where my family is from… plain semolina is way better and keeping it in the fridge overnight makes it hard enough to grill in a pan for breakfast with montasio or asiago…. YUM! try it!

  • Laura
    April 7, 2013 6:10pm

    It is cornmeal; Polenta is the final dish.
    In Italian you translate it with ‘farina di mais’.

  • April 8, 2013 1:08am

    but it’s such a simple dish and it’s funny when they serve it as such an upmarket delicacy because its roots were as being ‘bread’ for poorer persons who couldn’t afford bread, i had a friend try and explain to me that “polenta is so expensive and high-style food”… no, it’s really not, i love polenta w. umido… best thing evar.