I love making big batches of polenta because once it is cool, it will hold whatever shape of vessel you are storing it in. Then you can portion it and refrigerate and/or freeze. So I tend to make mine in a pie-pan or loaf pan, and then slice into triangle-shaped or rectangular wedges. Tip — when freezing and thawing, the texture is spongey, so I use it in soups or stews, where the spongey-ness isn’t noticeable when immersed in liquid. Tip — you can double and triple this recipe.
- 3 cups Britta-filtered water
- 1 teaspoon salt
Bring to boil in 2-quart saucepan.
- 1 cup dry polenta
Slowly … very slowly … steadily stream-in the polenta while you immediately whisk to combine with salted water. If you try to incorporate the polenta any other way (such as dumping all at once or even in small additions) the polenta will clump and will cook in unappealing, unpalatable clumps.
Once incorporated, turn heat to very low and cook 45 minutes, stirring frequently. I use a whisk to stir frequently within the first 10-15 minutes of cooking. Then, once the polenta has become very thick, I switch to a heat-proof spatula, and really scrape the bottom of the pot with each stir, to make sure the polenta doesn’t cake-up on the bottom of the pot and scorch.
- 4 oz. very sharp cheddar cheese, grated (or parmesan or other type of cheese, grated)
After 45 minutes, add cheese to polenta and stir to combine. Once it has completely melted and distributed, taste polenta and adjust seasoning with more salt and/or freshly cracked black pepper.
Lightly oil or butter a pie pan or loaf pan and use spatula to ease cooked polenta into prepared pan. Cool at room temperature for about 30 minutes and then finish cooling in refrigerator.
You can cook this with part milk (skim or other fat-content) and part water — ratio, up to you. This will make it taste creamier and richer.
I have steeped a sprig of rosemary in the water/milk for thirty minutes, and then removed the rosemary and continued with the recipe. I have also added 1 or 2 cloves of minced fresh garlic at the liquid-stage.
You could add chopped fresh herbs at the end — rosemary, thyme, etc.
**to make it vegan, leave out cheese**
There was a restaurant called Wildwood in Portland, OR and I remember they used to add mascarpone for a creamy, velvety finish.
When you reheat the slices/wedges, you can pan-fry in butter or oil to crisp the outside. You could lightly oil and then grill these slices/wedges.