Friday, September 27, 2013

Perfect Polenta – Dedicated to Some Fun Girl

Not only is polenta one of the first foods I remember watching someone cook, but it’s probably also responsible for the first time I ever heard someone curse. 

I remember my grandfather standing at the stove, stirring a big pot of the stuff, and every once in a while some of the thick, bubbling polenta would burp out of the pot and on to his hand. He would jump back and yell something, which to my very young ears sounded sort of like, “hey, some fun girl!” 

Of course, years later I realized he was actually saying, “vaffanculo.” I’ll let you translate yourself. By the way, one way to avoid the wrath of the molten mush is to adjust your heat to maintain a nice gentle bubble.

Besides severe burns, there’s not a lot that can go wrong with this recipe. As long as you stir it in slowly, whisking constantly, and simmer it until it’s perfectly soft, you will have one of the world’s great comfort foods, and a beautiful base for any number of stews or braises. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 4 Portions:
4 cups water or broth
1 cup polenta (you can use regular corn meal, but it’s not as easy to work with, and the texture isn’t as interesting)
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp butter
1/2  cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Note: if your question is, “can you add [blank] to this recipe,” the answer is yes.

24 comments:

Sandra from Montreal said...

Wow....I know what we're having for dinner tomorrow! All your recipes are incredible, but I can't wait to try these last two! Thanks for being a "people pleaser"! :)

truthspew said...

I use fine corn meal - in fact just made a batch tonight. Tasty!

Nancy Benton said...

Delicious looking. Will try on Sunday. But now you gotta make the winter veggie mushroom ragu!

Nancy Benton said...

Delicious looking. Will try on Sunday. But now you gotta make the winter veggie mushroom ragu!

Nancy Benton said...

Delicious looking. Gonna try on Sunday with pork. But now you gotta show us a veggie mushroom Ragu!

blogagog said...

In Louisiana, we call what you made 'grits'. For added fun, make some shrimp scampi (shrimp, butter, garlic) and mix it in at the last second.

That is all it takes to move it from a side dish to the main course!

Roberto said...

I grew up in Mississippi and I now live in Italy. I can say that grits are NOT polenta even though both are made from ground corn. Grits are most often made from dent corn turned into hominy by treating with lime and then ground. Good grits are soft and creamy. Polenta is ground from flint corn and the texture is grainy after cooking. Both are yummy, but they're not really interchangeable.

Sherry Tan said...

Hi, can you please show some video of using up leftover semolina?coz i bought it few months ago and don't know what to do with it.
Thanks.

Vann McCullar said...

Is a Polenta and a Grit the same thing? They look very similar.

- Roll Tide!

Dan Bremer and Emily Schleicher said...

Long Time Viewer, First Time Poster,

Love your videos, Chef John! Along the lines of what blogagog said above, what is your take on polenta vs. grits? Any difference? which is better?

Dan C said...

Chef John, I'm in San Francisco, where do you live WE'RE TOTALLY HANGING OUT

Chef John said...

Yes, grits and polenta are not the same! Here is an article. http://www.thekitchn.com/polenta-versus-grits-whats-the-difference-187807

loodje said...

Thank you!!!!!

Heidi said...

VEGGIE MUSHROOM RAGU, VEGGIE MUSHROOM RAGU, VEGGIE MUSHROOM RAGU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!PLEEEEEZZZZZEEEEEEEEE

Jason Smith said...

Ha!! The worlds first Jason Bourne Comment! Instant Classic!! I second HyDee: Mushroom Ragu!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Pleeeeeeeeezzzzzeeeeee!!!!!!

Phil Foster said...

It looks delicious. Definitely going to try this. But could you please tell me what is the gorgeous looking meat dish that you add at the end of the video? Thanks.

Chef John said...

It's the pork from the video before this one!

Unknown said...

Chef John, this is a beautiful thing. I'm a California girl who's lived in France for the last six years and I've zipped over to Italy on occasion and enjoyed a divine polenta and wild mushrooms. This recipe is equally divine! I love you and your website!

Ron said...

When I cook polenta, I have to chill it overnight in a baking pan, divide it up and fry it. If I don't, the universe will implode as if someone had divided by zero.

I never knew you could get away with not constantly stirring though, I have to try that now.

Giulia said...

Chef John... I am Italian (born and raised) and I think I know what "fun girl" means ... ;)
Anyway, you're awesome!

PJ said...

The difference between grits and polenta is like the difference between hog jowls and pancetta!

Bret said...

"You are the yenta of your polenta" :)

Julia Bertagni said...

Please make Mushroom ragu! I need it! :)

Claire said...

Made this a couple nights ago - i followed your recipe to a T and it came out absolutely perfectly! The texture was just right and I didn't have to stir constantly! Thanks so much for sharing this with us!