For everybody shoveling their method out of this week’s nor’easter, this creamy polenta bowl is for you. Over the chilly weekend, I used to be craving one thing heat and hearty that my mother used to make on chilly nights. I wished palak paneer, I wished sambar, I wished rajma. Sadly for me, after rummaging by my pantry and fridge, I had not one of the elements I wanted to make any of those desires occur. After sulking for half-hour about my horrible planning, I knew I’d must get inventive within the kitchen and work with what I had. One factor I did have? A bag of polenta sitting within the very again of my pantry.
Whereas I’ve had polenta many occasions earlier than, I’ve not often made it for myself. I all the time thought it took too lengthy or that I wouldn’t be capable of get the feel proper. (There’s a motive the bag of polenta had been pushed to the very again of the pantry!) After texting with one in all my finest pals Kristin, my go-to polenta advisor, I jotted down some notes that she and her mother have used to get the proper bowl of polenta, and received to cooking over the lengthy, chilly weekend. In spite of everything, nothing is healthier than a heat bowl for dinner on a chilly winter night time.
First issues first, what’s polenta?
My first query when standing within the grocery aisle is: can I swap cornmeal for polenta? Are they the identical factor? The grocery retailer has a bag of cornmeal sitting subsequent to a bag labeled polenta in any case, so I perceive why it’s complicated. A bit web deep dive helped clear up a number of the confusion. Polenta is a dish constituted of cornmeal, and if a package deal is labeled polenta, that simply implies that the grind of the corn is okay to make polenta. However sure, you’ll be able to substitute medium or coarsely-ground cornmeal as an alternative.
Okay, now how do I get a very creamy polenta?
In my analysis, I learn that if you need a clean and creamy polenta, you want finely floor cornmeal. However not too effective, or your polenta may find yourself pasty and gluey. So in testing, I met someplace within the center thanks to at least one helpful kitchen device. The meals processor! I pulsed about 3/4 of my cornmeal in a meals processor, after which made certain to sift out any clumps that could be in there. This helped the cornmeal be finer in texture and likewise cook dinner so much quicker. I personally like a bit of little bit of the grit and texture of cornmeal, so didn’t wish to get rid of that fully, and this hybrid method helped obtain the very best of each worlds whereas additionally highlighting how wealthy and creamy you can also make your polenta.
I additionally took this model a step additional by including caramelized garlic to complete it off. You roast the garlic with the remainder of the veggies so it turns into all candy, mushy, and scrumptious. Then while you take the greens out of the oven, merely squeeze out the garlic from its peels, mash it up, and stir it into the completed polenta. It’s completely divine.
A couple of different polenta cooking ideas I discovered alongside the best way:
- Toast your polenta! It’s an additional step that if you wish to skip, you’ll be able to, however I beloved the nutty and toasty taste this step provides to the cornmeal.
- Whisk consistently whereas incorporating the liquid. I used vegetable inventory for my polenta, and whereas I poured that into my toasted polenta, I whisked constantly whereas doing so. This helps to attenuate lumps. DO NOT add all of the liquid directly.
- Salt is your finest pal. Like pasta, salt generously. Additionally use actually good parmesan. It’s value it.
- Fats can be your finest pal. My pal Kristin informed me to “use extra butter than you assume is feasible”. I’ll maintain that recommendation deeply to my core. I used about 1/4 cup of mascarpone as an alternative of butter, and it added that good depth of taste and creaminess. A dollop of crème fraîche or bitter cream could be a pleasant addition.
Whereas this recipe may look a bit of fancy for a weeknight dinner, I aligned every part on a timeline so it will all end on the similar time—meaning you’ll be able to have dinner on the desk in a flash. Prep the veggies and have these within the oven to roast when you prep the polenta. Since polenta is extra hands-on with constant stirring, I wished the toppings to be fully hands-off. By the point the polenta is completed on the range, the veggies are completed roasting and you may assemble every part directly. It’s all about allocating effort in one of the best ways!
I’d love to listen to your favourite taste mixtures to prime your creamy polenta bowls with. A couple of mixtures I’m considering of making an attempt:
- Roasted tomatoes with an enormous dollop of pesto and a few burrata
- Shittake mushrooms and parmesan, maybe with an egg on prime?
- Sautéed kale and lentils with a lot of lemon
- Candy maple roasted squash with a bit of chili oil