Easy Baked Polenta

From Cook's Country | October/November 2012

Why this recipe works:

Creamy polenta—basically a porridge of cornmeal and water—is a comforting Italian side dish, but cooking it on the stovetop means up to a half-hour of nonstop stirring. Using the same ratio of cornmeal to water (1:4) and the right kind of polenta (medium-grain polenta or cornmeal), we were… read more

Creamy polenta—basically a porridge of cornmeal and water—is a comforting Italian side dish, but cooking it on the stovetop means up to a half-hour of nonstop stirring. Using the same ratio of cornmeal to water (1:4) and the right kind of polenta (medium-grain polenta or cornmeal), we were able to adapt traditional polenta into a completely hands-off dish. A shallow-sided baking dish sped up the cooking time, and a moderate oven prevented the liquid from evaporating too quickly, which could cause dry pockets. Butter and Parmesan stirred in at the end added richness.

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Serves 6 to 8

You can use medium-grind cornmeal in place of the polenta; they are different names for the same thing. Don’t use instant polenta, however.

Ingredients

  • 8 cups water
  • 2 cups medium-grind polenta
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (2 cups)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces

Instructions

  1. 1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Combine water, polenta, salt, and pepper in 13 by 9-inch baking dish. Transfer dish to oven and bake, uncovered, until water is absorbed and polenta has thickened, about 60 minutes.

    2. Remove baking dish from oven and whisk in Parmesan and butter until polenta is smooth and creamy. Serve.

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