Polenta: comfort food

mamaligaPolenta [poˈlenta] is a dish of boiled cornmeal.

Polenta is served hot, as porridge or as a side dish, or it is allowed to cool and solidify and can be cut into slices/cubes. I’ve seen it served grilled and even fancied up to create delicious, sophisticated dishes.

I.love.it whichever way!

My mom, grandparents and great grandparents, and most likely their parents too, grew up eating polenta on a regular basis. This was their alternative bread. They grew their own corn and they took sacs full of it to the mill and bring home corn flour. Grandma would fire up a deep, round bottom cast iron pot and make a delicious steaming polenta that was gone by the end of the day.

During my childhood, at grandma’s, I used to eat it alongside fresh cheese, crushed strawberries in sour cream, cabbage rolls, long string beans meal, mushroom meal, fried liver, and even by itself in a big bowl of cold milk (while it was hot I’d take spoon fulls and drop them in the milk – my dad ate it like that all the time).

It is such a fulfilling dish that I would recommend to anyone to try it at least once! Mitchell is very fussy when it comes to trying new food items and dishes, but I managed to convince him one time to eat fried fish with polenta, and that’s how we eat it ever since 🙂 so you never know where love comes from.

Yesterday, my dad brought some polenta for lunch, and I decided I would make some for dinner too! We are good like that to inspire each other with what else to cook when we run out of ideas. 

Polenta with ‘the works’

Making polenta is so easy, first timers will be soooo proud to have this under their belt. It takes a whole 3 STEPS to get it done 🙂

STEP 1. bring 3-4 cups water to a boil (turn stove to low-medium afterwards)
STEP 2. slowly sprinkle 1-1.5 cups cornmeal over the boiling water (~1 cup of cornmeal for every 3 cups of water)
STEP 3. mix it slowly and watch it expand (use an egg beater for easy mixing)

Make sure there’s no cornmeal bubbles, keep stirring, and checking. Turn the stove on low while still stirring and when the polenta starts “bubbling”, you can remove from the fire.

A great way to enjoy this delicious meal is with ‘the works’ and that could mean a lot of things – let your imagination run wild! 

My favorite ‘the works’ is made by layering hot polenta with cheese (fresh or feta), sliced boiled eggs, butter, and grated mozzarella. When served, I add a spoonful of sour cream to add to the dairy overload!

Related: Chicken schnitzel

Before putting the water to boil for the polenta, put some eggs to boil (they take longer) and start grating the cheese. You want to make sure you have all the sides ready, as you will have to work with the polenta while it’s hot.

IMG_20160128_185432My way of layering in a round stoneware dish was as follows:

  1. Fresh cheese (I used Ricotta) or crumbled feta
  2. Two broken slices of butter (no need to warm up) 
  3. Thin layer of sliced boiled eggs (no overlapping)
  4. Thin layer or hot polenta
  5. Layer of grated cheese
  6. Thin layer of sliced boiled eggs (no overlapping)
  7. Thin layer of hot polenta
  8. Few more pieces of butter on top (optional) as it melts, spread it around the top surface
  9. OPTIONAL: for a crusty finish, you could put it in the oven for about 10-15 minutes at 350F
  10. OPTIONAL: if you don’t like the top to be hard, cover the bowl with cling wrap after it cools for a few minutes. TIP: the longer it sits to cool, the quicker the top hardens.

Let it cool for a few of minutes, as many as you can handle ;), and DIG IN!


I took about a third of the whole dish and that was last night’s DINNER. and I washed it down with a glass of milk, of course. I sure didn’t need anything else 😀





4 Thoughts on “Polenta: comfort food

  1. Have you ever made a polenta pizza crust? I was thinking of trying it, but don’t have a recipe.

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