Cheesy Soft Polenta – SO Easy!

April 26, 2010Katie

First off, I must say I am honored to be featured on Tasty Kitchen’s site starting today under the TK Blog.  If you haven’t visited Tasty Kitchen, you haven’t lived.  It is a site created by Ree of The Pioneer  Woman where food bloggers and home cooks can upload recipes and oh my, are there fantastic recipes over there! Check it out!

Now, onto the Polenta!

Polenta sounds so fancy, so exotic, so Italian, and for ordinary people, so…unreachable.

But this week, I bought some, made it and discovered that’s so …NOT TRUE!

If you’re from the south, you know grits.  Grits and polenta are both very similar products.  Both are ground cornmeal, but they differ slightly.  Grits are always made of white cornmeal, and are chemically treated before grinding.  Polenta can be made of white or yellow cornmeal.  The type I used was yellow.  The bag even described it as polenta or grits.

I used the quick-cooking version.  True polenta lovers will tell you that you have to use the slow cooking variety that you have to stir for an hour, but I thought this was just wonderful.

You basically want to use  3 parts liquid to 1 part polenta to make the ooey gooey type that you use as a base for some kind of yummy sauce or meat.

I’ll show you tomorrow what I topped mine with also.  It was good.

Very good.

Hint**  It involves the words “mushroom” and “ragout”.

I started mine with one and one-half cups of milk.  Dump this into a medium-size saucepan.

Also add in one and one-half cups of chicken broth.

And, please pardon me, but two tablespoons of butter.

Important!  You don’ t want to boil this (because of the milk), but  bring it up to a simmer and wait for the butter to melt, then give it a stir.

Oops, I almost forgot, but at this point, I added one teaspoon of salt, and don’t skimp here! The cornmeal needs it for flavor!

Now slowly pour in your polenta.  I used one cup.  And get your whisk ready cuz you’ll have to whisk away on this stuff pretty steadily.

Keeping your heat on medium, whisk the polenta into the liquid, so as not to get clumps.  At first you’ll think it’s pretty thin, but then this will happen.

And when that happens?  Add the cheese.  I used parmesan, but you could use any cheese that makes you smile.  I used one-half cup of parmesan and dumped it right in.

I’ve seen cream cheese used frequently as well as goat cheese, asiago and gruyere.  Parmesan was delicious and I can’t wait to experiment with the others!

Whisk your cheese into your polenta for about a minute.  And then….

Spoon your polenta onto a plate.  I could eat it just like this! It was so yummy!

Ideas for topping this?

I topped mine with Bacon Mushroom Ragout.  The possibilities are endless.  Favorites are Osso Buco, shortribs, meatballs and other saucy meat dishes, but I have seen it served at restaurants with fish or steak on it as well.  Use your imagination and try whatever you love over polenta.  I think it would be amazing with some pesto swirled into it and topped with some kind of meat or shrimp.

So don’t be afraid of a fancy name like Polenta.  It’s a snap to make!

Katie’s Printable Recipe – Cheesy Soft Polenta


  • DessertForTwo

    April 26, 2010 at 10:07 am

    These look divine! :) Thanks for sharing! P.S. Found you through Tasty Kitchen.
  • Maria

    April 26, 2010 at 11:49 am

    I love making polenta with roasted veggies. Mmmm!
  • Dawn’s Diversions

    April 26, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    Katie, that WAS easier than I thought it would be. It looks yummy. Congrats for getting to write over at TK. That's awesome. We housewives at the RHOK are hoping Ree will have us come to the Lodge some day. LOL!
    1. dishinanddishes

      April 26, 2010 at 2:29 pm

      Dawn - if you get to, take me with you!
  • Barefoot Belle

    April 26, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    Yum! This is southern comfort to the max! I can't wait to see what you put on top. I always love new ideas for topping grits (or polenta)--my husband thinks they should be limited to shrimp or as a side next to eggs and bacon for some reason. Congratulations on being the featured member! It was fun seeing all of your recipes together--such pretty pictures.
  • dishinanddishes

    April 26, 2010 at 10:18 pm

    Belle - I need a good shrimp and grits recipe -been really interested to try that! Maria - roasted veggies? Yum! DessertForTwo - thank you! Glad you visited!
    1. ron

      December 15, 2011 at 8:07 am

      Grits can be either white (the most common) or yellow in the south. I keep both varieties and consume them almost daily. Yellow grits have a slightly stringer flavor but the difference is not all that dramatic. I do live in southernmost Alabama, so I don't expect everybody to be aware of the difference. I use the yellow grits (Dixie Lily brand) for my polenta dishes and they work very well. You see, I'm of Neapolitan descent too. I've found several cross cultural foods here, the local turnip and mustard greens work very well in Italian dishes calling for greens and spinach. The little grocery store that supplies my "southern and Italian" needs knows me as an eccentric customer who talks about doing the stranges things with their local foods. Ron

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