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Polenta Recipe

This is dish traditional in Northern Italy, particularly in the Veneto.
It is made with yellow cornmeal. It is such a staple, that the chef ingredient has been given the name of the cooked dish. Once cooked it can be layered with cheese, mushrooms or herbs - then baked in the oven. It's an ideal foil for rich dishes, such as "Hare; Civet in an Italian-style".
There are various 'instant' packets on the market, in which case follow the instructions on the packet, but this slow method will produce better results.

If you enjoy cooking take a minute to look at - learn how to make top-class dishes from beginners upwards.

Key Features

  • Suitable for Vegetarians
  • Suitable for Vegans


For 6 people:

400g/14oz coarse-grained corn meal
2 litres/3½ pints water
1 teaspoon (5ml) Salt
freshly-ground Black Pepper

Equipment needed: A big heavy saucepan; a long and strong wooden spoon.


1. Bring the water to the boil.
2. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, and add the salt.
3. With the polenta in one hand, and a wooden spoon in the other – add the polenta to the water, in a slow, steady stream – stirring constantly.
4. Continue stirring for the next 25 minutes, or until the polenta comes away from the sides of the pan.
5. Add a generous amount of freshly-ground black pepper,during the last minute of stirring.

It can now be served as it is, in the manner of mashed potatoes; or poured into a baking tray, smoothed-out, and allowed to set. It can then be cut into shapes, and fried in a pan filled with olive oil to a depth of 2cm/¾in.

1. Spread fried polenta with crumbed Gorgonzola, the melt this under the grill.
2. Mix 110g/4oz Butter and 60g/2oz grated Parmesan into the polenta during the last few minutes of stirring. It will develop an attractive sheen if produced in this way.
3. It can be made with stock or milk instead of water
4. It can be cooked with finely-chopped anchovies (use 4 fillets for the above quantity), plus/or finely-chopped leaves of fresh rosemary

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