Real Recipes From Real Home Cooks ®

basic polenta (firm)

Recipe by
Maureen Martin
Independence, MO

I adapted this truly basic dish from a recipe in a book entitled ~The Food and Cooking of Venice~ by Valentina Harris which friends purchased for me when visiting there. Making good polenta is definitely labor intensive, but for that special someone whom you know will appreciate it, it is well worth the effort. Personally, I found this dish somewhat bland (but quite excellent with some strong cheese melted in it [also see my Dressed Polenta (Soft) recipe]), but my Mexican friend said it reminds him of home and wants me to make it again as soon as possible!

yield 8 serving(s)
prep time 10 Min
cook time 50 Min
method Stove Top

Ingredients For basic polenta (firm)

  • 7 1/2 c
    boiling water
  • 2 scant c
    polenta flour
  • 1/2 tsp

How To Make basic polenta (firm)

  • 1
    Put the water and salt into a wide, heavy pan over high heat and bring to boil, stirring to dissolve salt.
  • 2
    Once the water is boiling, sprinkle the polenta flour into the bubbling water slowly with one hand while whisking constantly with the other. Do NOT add all at once or you will have a sticky lump! Be careful of splashing boiling water!
  • 3
    When all the polenta flour has been whisked into the water, reduce heat to medium low (slow bubbling).
  • 4
    For the first 20 - 30 minutes, stir every 7 - 10 minutes with a strong, long-handled spoon. Be careful of scalding hot polenta bubbles (hence the long handled spoon)! Around 30 minute mark, begin stirring constantly until polenta comes away from the sides of the pan (you will feel and see the change in the batter). This will take around 10 - 20 more minutes (40 - 50 minutes total). It may seem like it's ready after a few minutes (when your arm starts feeling like it's about to fall off) but don't stop until the texture changes--the flavor won't be right until then.
  • 5
    You can turn the hot polenta out onto a platter and smooth it into any shape you like. Leave it to rest about 5 minutes then cut it into slices for serving. OR you can simply turn it out into a large decorative (heat resistant) bowl and serve hot with a spoon. As it cools it will solidify. This is normal, and many recipes call for frying slices of solidified polenta (I haven't tried this yet, but it's definitely on my To-Do List!)
  • 6
    Serving Suggestion Slice and top each piece with a heaping tablespoon of crumbled gorgonzola, asiago, or other strong cheese [also see my recipe for Dressed Polenta (soft)].