Not only did the final dish in the video look great, but it also was perfect timing, because as seasons start to change so do my eating habits. It’s the time of year when I am adding richer heartier foods back in to my meal rotation, and polenta is just that a creamy, smooth, “warm you from the inside out” kind of food.
First a few quick things to know if you are new to polenta. Traditional polenta is typically simmered for about 45 minutes. It requires almost constant stirring. These days, quick cooking and ready-made packaged polenta are easy to find, I would suggest, de la Estancia Organic Polenta. Whether you buy our polenta in bulk or start with a box, follow the cooking instructions with that particular brand, cook times really do change by brand, grind, and how long the uncooked polenta has been sitting (older polenta requires more liquid, more time, and more whisking). You can find Serious Eats instructions for making polenta on their site, and will say it is one that I think is very reliable.
Once I have the polenta where I want, it is time to enjoy the fun part: deciding which flavors you want to infuse into the corn. That is of course after I have incorporated a solid handful of Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper. A few of my classic go-tos are: wilted or sautéed greens with roasted garlic, sautéed mushrooms, a hearty, meaty ragu, and sausage. To help add some crunch and texture I like fresh herbs and/or green onions added at the end, so not everything is cooked. It also just helps to lighten the whole dish.
Most importantly don’t feel like you have to stick to a recipe. Your polenta is basically a blank canvas that you can finish with whatever you want. So take a stroll through the Produce, Market, or Seafood departments and just see what looks beautiful and tasty. A quick guide to what is in season can be found here.
You can also check out the inspiration for this post on Bon Appétit’s Facebook page