Creamy polenta is an amazing Italian recipe of cooked yellow cornmeal in a seasoned broth and finished off with butter and parmesan cheese for the perfect side dish.
Creamy polenta is super easy to make and is essentially the Italian version of grits. The few differences are that polenta uses yellow cornmeal and grits uses white corn hominy. In addition, yellow cornmeal for polenta tends to be more coarse. Whether you are eating creamy polenta or even polenta cakes, I know you will love this recipe.
WHAT IS IT?
It is essentially the Italian version of the southern classic, grits. This polenta recipe is made from cornmeal, that’s it. Now the cornmeal used in this dish is a different breed of corn and is cut differently so it’s not a perfect 1 to 1 comparison but the flavor profiles are very similar and the method is just about the same as well.
So the next time you see a package of cornmeal at the grocery store, that is your first step to making a creamy polenta recipe.
WHAT IS POLENTA MADE
It’s simply two ingredients but there are countless ways to enhance it to make it taste better. The two most simple ingredients are chicken stock and cornmeal. The other ingredients you can add to help are:
CHEF NOTE: In my personal opinion I think onions, butter and cheese is the perfect addition to a basic recipe.
IS IT BAD FOR YOU
In its simplest form containing only chicken stock and cornmeal, polenta is relatively healthy with a good amount of fiber and protein in it. It’s when you start to add in all of the fats that it can begin to become unhealthy.
WHAT IS THE RATIO OF POLENTA TO WATER?
If you want this to be a super creamy polenta then use a ration of 4:1 liquid to cornmeal and if you want the regular version then it is 3:1 liquid to cornmeal, which is actually what I used in this recipe.
HOW TO MAKE IT
Making this creamy polenta recipe is so incredibly easy that you’ll wonder why you haven’t made it before.
- Step1: It all starts with caramelizing up some chopped yellow onion and finely minced garlic cloves in a small amount of olive oil in a 6 or 8 quart pot. This can take up to 10 minutes or so but will be well worth it when it comes to the end result. NOTE: It is absolutely ok to sub unsalted butter for olive oil in this cooking procedure.
- Step 2: Once they onions and garlic are brown in a medium size pot in olive oil, add in the chicken stock and bring it to a boil. NOTE: You can substitute the chicken stock for vegetable stock or even just water.
- Step 3: When it is boiling pour in the cornmeal while vigorously whisking constantly to ensure there are no clumps in the polenta. Turn the heat down to medium-low. This is the most important stage of the entire cooking process because the cornmeal needs to be cooked without any chunks in it. This process can take anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes. NOTE: I prefer to use a medium ground cornmeal to make the creamy polenta with because I like it to be a bit more grainy, but that’s just so feel free to use a finer ground.
- Step 4: Once the creamy polenta is finished it should be smooth with no crunch to it. At this point stir in some whole butter, Parmesan cheese and salt and pepper.
- CHEF TIP: If you wanted to kick it up even more you could caramelize up some mushrooms or root vegetables during this cooking stage as well. The point I’m trying to get at is that this creamy polenta recipe is malleable, customize is it to your tastebuds!
It’s not only delicious as a side dish but it also a recipe that works great as a main component of a main meal. For example, you can fold in roasted vegetables and chicken into a cooked creamy polenta recipe, or you can put some creamy shrimp all over the top of it.
I recommend to people to try and use polenta as the base of a main entree or as a side dish or eat it as it because this creamy polenta recipe is absolutely delicious all by itself.
MORE AMAZING SIDE DISH RECIPES
Oh yeah, if you love this creamy polenta recipe then you will love these sides dishes!
- Boiled Green Beans Recipe with Butter Glaze
- Parmesan Truffle Fries Recipe
- How to Make a Traditional Ratatouille Recipe
- Cheesy Asparagus
- How to Make Scalloped Potatoes with Parmesan Cheese
Creamy Polenta Recipe with Parmesan Cheese
- 1 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1/2 small diced small yellow onion
- 2 finely minced cloves of garlic
- 6 cups of chicken stock, vegetable stock or water
- 2 cups of medium ground cornmeal
- 2 ounces of unsalted butter
- 2/3 cup of shredded parmesan cheese
- sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
- In a medium size pot on medium-high heat add in the olive oil and cook the onions and garlic until they are browned, about 3 to 7 minutes.
- Pour in the liquid and bring to a boil.
- Once boiling pour in the cornmeal while continuing to vigorously stir with a whisk to ensure no clumps are formed, about 15 to 20 minutes. When the cornmeal is poured in, turn the heat down to medium-low.
- Finish off the polenta by stirring in butter, parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper until completely combined. Cook for a further 5 minutes over low heat. Garnish with parmesan and parsley.
- Serve hot, enjoy!
- It is absolutely ok to sub unsalted butter for olive oil when cooking the onions.
- If you wanted to kick it up even more you could caramelize up some mushrooms or root vegetables during this cooking stage as well. The point I'm trying to get at is that this creamy polenta recipe is malleable, customize is it to your tastebuds!
- You can substitute the chicken stock for vegetable stock or even just water.
- How to Reheat: To reheat it, simply add your desired portion to a pan, cover with foil and bake in the oven at 375° for 8-12 minutes or until hot. In addition, you can simply add them to the microwave and heat until hot.
- How to Store it: Store polenta in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To reheat it add about 1/2 cup of chicken stock to it and heat it up over low heat until it becomes creamy again.
- How to Freeze: Polenta will freeze covered in the freezer for up to 2 months. Do the same process to reheat, but first make sure it is thawed out.