I remember the first time I discovered polenta. I was in a small mountain village outside of Milan with an Italian girlfriend I was spending holiday with my sophomore year of college. We were at a ski chalet, sunbathing in chaise lounges .. while our fingertips trailed in the snow beneath our chairs.
When it was time for lunch, she suggested we each get a bowl of polenta. I’d never heard of it, but was always inclined to trust the recommendations of my hosts when traveling abroad. To say that it tasted like a bowl of heaven was an understatement. I’d never tasted anything more delicious than this bowl of savory corn pudding.
I’ve ordered it many times in restaurants since, and more often than not it’s disappointing. The good news is, it is ridiculously easy to make it home – so I often do!
2 c water
1/2 c yellow corn meal
1/2 t salt
2-4 T butter (less if you’re counting calories; more if you’re feeling indulgent)
1/4 c shredded parmesan cheese (not the stuff from a green can!)
Bring the water and salt to a boil. Slowly whisk in the cornmeal. Don’t be impatient, as you’ll get lumps!
Reduce heat to a simmer and stir more or less constantly for the first 5 minutes. Then cover and cook another 20-30 minutes, stirring about every 6 minutes. It’s done when the texture is nice and smooth, and all the individual grains have softened.
Add the butter and cheese at the end, stir to melt the cheese.
This is absolutely at its best when it’s warm and liquidy. But it keeps well.