Let’s talk about polenta.
I love polenta. I love it a lot.
It is, for me, the ultimate comfort food. It’s smooth and creamy and, perhaps most importantly is super cheap. I pretty well lived off of polenta for a couple years. Breakfast? Put an egg on it. Lunch? Some tomato sauce. Dinner? My favourite is with sautéed mushrooms and onions. You can serve it with steak, or Bolognese sauce, or darn near anything.
But when I was young and ever so broke, mostly I ate it with straight up tomato sauce. When I was feeling rich I would buy some parm and add some in, but most days it wasn’t so fancy. I could make a big batch and feed myself for a few meals for under $3.00. Mega cheap.
And, even in my intense poverty, it was a deeply satisfying meal. It takes only a few minutes to make and it is rich and as comforting as any dish could be.
And it is almost ridiculously easy to make. It is a no fuss sort of a dish. You simply bring some liquid to a boil (stock, milk, or a combination of both) whisk in the polenta and let it simmer for half and hour or so. That’s it. Unless you’re trying to keep your costing at a minimum, you should add in cheese and a little nub of butter for a bit of flavour.
Once it’s cooked it becomes a creamy porridge, but your left over’s will harden up in the fridge and become something that you can bake or fry and give it some crispy texture. But I like it best hot out of the pot, eaten with a spoon, feeling like a kid again.
3 cups Chicken Stock, or water
2 cups Milk
1 cup Polenta
½ cup Parmesano Reggiono, or Granda Padana (optional)
2 tbsp Butter (optional)
In a medium pot over medium heat bring a pinch of salt, the stock/water and the milk up to a boil.
Reduce the heat to medium low.
Pour the polenta into a fine sieve and shake it over the pot whisking the whole time- this will prevent lumps from forming.
Keep whisking until the polenta starts to thicken, about 2 minutes.
Switch from a whisk to a spatula or wooden spoon and stir on occasion for 25-35 more minutes, adding a bit of water if it starts to look too thick.
Add in the cheese and butter and stir until it is totally incorporated. Check for seasoning and add more salt if you need it.