Three different ways to make polenta; a velvety traditional one with a spicy & smoky pulled pork, a grilled one for the BBQ or some crispy baked fries served with a garlic-yogurt dip.
This post is about three different ways to make polenta, three different textures going from smooth to crunchy. I always make too much polenta, so I usually spread the leftovers in a rectangular pyrex, cover it with plastic wrap and leave it in the fridge. The next day you can use the compacted or “cake like” polenta and make a whole different meal with it by whether grilling it “steak style” on the BBQ or baking sticks of it until getting crunchy polenta fries.
Different types of polenta
The perfect polenta is smooth and shiny, similar to the texture of a velvety mashed potato. Some put cream in it, others milk or even broth but most purists would tell you simply water is needed. On the market, they sell whether instant polenta, polenta or cornmeal. The difference here is mainly the way they ground the corn meal resulting in different thickness which affects the cooking time and texture of the final product. Sometimes the “instant” polenta is a pre cooked polenta turned back into fine sand texture. This last one is ready in just 3 minutes!
The art of polenta
Let’s make it clear: polenta is an art and takes quite a while to make… about 50 minutes and some serious arm muscles to achieve the perfect consistency. The technique is basically turning every 5 minutes the polenta until ultra smooth and the sides don’t stick to the pot anymore. The “hard core” purists would tell you to use solely a wooden spoon and always turn the polenta in the same direction… but I’m pretty sure it’s gibberish. If you don’t have time or muscles… don’t despair, there is a trick to help shorten the cooking process by half. Simply soak the cornmeal/Polenta in water for a few hours before cooking it. However if you just want to make “polenta fries” or grilled polenta, the “instant” version is great for it! It cooks rapidly and holds better once cold, so less chance to break it.
Here are the three recipes; for the smooth polenta I’ve used a delicious recipe of Spicy & Smoky Pulled Pork from fellow Aussie blogger Blogtastic Food . (check it out here), for the grilled polenta, I’ve simply served it with grilled zucchinis slices and a salad. For the fries a simple garlic-lime yogurt dip but it could be any dip you like.
Makes 4-5 portions | Difficulty: easy (hard for the arm) | Preparation: 50 minutes (instant: 3 to 10 minutes)
- 120g (3/4 cup) polenta (normal or instant)
- 1 litre of water (a bit more for creamier polenta)
- 1 tsp of salt
- 10g of butter or olive oil
- parmesan *optional
Full time normal polenta
- Add the polenta and salt to cold water
- Heat up the polenta until first bubble appears and turn to low heat
- Stir every 5 minutes for about 50 minutes or until the sides of the polenta comes off the pot when stirring
- Add the butter and parmesan and serve
Half time normal polenta
- Soak the polenta in the water for a few hours
- Add the salt
- Bring the heat to the polenta and as soon as it makes a bubble, keep it on low heat and stir
- Stir every 5 minutes, for about 25-30 minutes, or until the sides of the polenta comes off the pot when stirring
- Add the butter and parmesan, serve
- Depending on the packaging, follow instructions
Spicy & Smoky Pulled Pork
(check recipe here) on Blogtastic Food Blog
*if you want to skip the traditional smooth polenta and just get the compact polenta, simply use a “instant” type and omit the butter in the end.
Same as above
- Add the warm or leftover polenta in a container to make about a 2-3cm thick polenta cake and cover with plastic wrap, leave in the fridge until needed
- Cut into big pieces
- Bring a grill pan or BBQ to high heat
- Spray a little oil on the grill surface and on the polenta
- Cook on each side for about 3-4 minutes
Same as above
- Add the warm or leftover polenta in a container and cover with plastic wrap, leave in the fridge until needed
- Cut into sticks
- Lightly spray olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper
- Cook at 200°C (400F) for 12-15 minutes or until crispy and darker edges
- Serve with a dip