I put creamy polenta into the same category as risotto and macaroni and cheese – total comfort food. This is my friend Chef Anne McAllister’s version. It makes a lovely addition to a dinner of Pot Roast, or Braised Short Ribs. I think it’s great for breakfast, or lunch, or snack, well really anytime and I’d eat it all by itself if no one else was looking.
Creamy Polenta (4-6 servings)
- 2 cups chicken stock, vegetable stock, or water (plus an extra cup – just in case)
- 2 cups milk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup polenta (not quick-cooking) or yellow cornmeal
- 2 tablespoons best quality unsalted butter
- grated parmesan cheese, optional
Bring the chicken stock, milk and salt to a boil in a 3-quart heavy saucepan. Once it is at a boil add the polenta in a thin stream, whisking constantly. Cook over moderate heat, whisking constantly for two minutes. Reduce heat to low and cover the pan.
Cook at a bare simmer, stirring with a long-handled spoon every once in a while for 45 minutes total (the cooking time will vary by the kind of polenta grains that you buy – it is worth checking the package for how long it says it will take – this should give you a better sense of total cooking time). Add the extra liquid, a little at a time, if the polenta seems dry and is still not cooked through. A thin layer of crust will likely form at the bottom of the pan no matter what you try to do to prevent it – just make sure that it is not burning.
Remove the polenta from the heat and whisk in the butter until it is incorporated. Stir in the parmesan cheese. I use about half a cup of Parmesan, but you can add whatever amount suits you. Check for seasoning. Serve immediately.