Creamy Italian Parmesan Polenta

This buttery and creamy Polenta is made even richer and classier with Parmesan cheese. Goes perfectly with some hearty meaty dishes or roast vegetables!


This classic dish made from cornmeal is a staple food from the regions of Northern and Central Italy. History tells us that the earlier version was made with other grains such as farro, millet, spelt, chestnut flour, and chickpeas.

After the corn was introduced to Europe from America in the 16th century, it became the most used ingredient for polenta. Sometimes white corn or buckwheat are also used to make polenta.

What’s the Difference between Polenta and Cornmeal?

Simple. Although both names are used interchangeably, the Italian polenta is actually the name of the dish that is made using cornmeal. But the American cornmeal and grits are also other dishes made using cornmeal.

In addition, the milling processes used for polenta, grits, and regular cornmeal are quite different.

Anyways, Polenta is served either as hot porridge or in its cooled slice form. Cooked polenta takes the shape of the pot or vessel it’s stored in when cool and hardens to an almost loaf like form.

Polenta can be baked, grilled, or fried before serving.

Here’s how to make polenta at home!


Recipe Pointers For Making Creamy Parmesan Polenta

  • You’ll know when your polenta is ready when the individual grains are tender and the texture is smooth and pourable.
  • For extra flavor, substitute the water for chicken stock or vegetable stock.
  • For extra creaminess, substitute 1.5 cups of water for milk.
  • Coarse cornmeal tastes better than the instant or fine variety.
  • Instead of buying pre-grated Parmigiano Reggiano (parmesan), it’s better to buy a whole block of cheese and grate it as and when you need it. It is much nuttier and stronger.
  • On its own polenta is vegetarian and gluten-free!
  • Top with a dollop of butter and crushed pepper before serving.

FAQs about Creamy Polenta

Can I use instant polenta instead of cornmeal?

Yes, you can use instant polenta. If you do, reduce the cooking time to 3 to 5 minutes.

What’s the difference between grits and polenta?

Both dishes are made from cornmeal, but the American grits are usually made from white corn or hominy while the Italian polenta is typically made from yellow corn.

Can you use white cornmeal for polenta?

Yes, you can use white cornmeal to make polenta.

What goes well creamy polenta?

Polenta goes great with some roast vegetables, seafood, or hearty meaty dishes.

What to do if the polenta is too runny?

If your polenta is runny/watery, it has not cooked long enough. Leave it on the stove for longer.

What to do if the polenta is too thick?

If your polenta is thick and no longer pourable, add an additional 1/2 cup of water or milk and whisk it to combine. Or slice it, and fry or grill it.

What to do with leftover polenta?

Leftover polenta can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Reheat on the stovetop over low heat.

Creamy Parmesan Polenta

Creamy Parmesan Polenta

This buttery and creamy Polenta is made even richer and classier with Parmesan cheese. Goes perfectly with some hearty meaty dishes or roast vegetables.

Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup polenta
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup grated parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Instructions

  1. Add the water to a large saucepan set over medium-high heat. Bring it to a boil.
  2. Slowly add the polenta, whisking continuously.
  3. Cook the polenta, stirring occasionally until it has thickened slightly. If using Instant Polenta (my preference), it should be finished cooking in 3-5 minutes. If using cornmeal (coarse or fine), it should be finished in 25-30 minutes.
  4. Add the parmesan, butter, and salt.
  5. Serve immediately.

Notes

You’ll know when your polenta is ready when the individual grains are tender and the texture is smooth and pourable.

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