Basic Creamy Polenta

A mound of golden polenta on a plate is a perfect foil for some roasted veggies, a poached egg, or some sliced, grilled meat.  Its final creaminess is up to you.  Add a bit more milk or water as it cooks, so it turns out just as you prefer.  I used some hardy basil in this version.

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2 c water

2 c milk – whatever fat content you have on hand – you can add a bit more butter if you want it richer

1½ t salt

1 c coarse cornmeal / polenta

3T butter – cut into 1” cubes

½ c grated parmesan

salt & pepper to taste

optional: up to ¼ c fresh parsley or basil, ¼ c crème fraiche or sour cream


Bring the water, milk & salt to a boil.

Reduce heat to a gentle boil, and add the cornmeal in a thin stream, whisking while adding.

Turn the heat to low, so that the polenta is cooking with occasionally burps of air breaking the surface, instead of a mad boil.  Partially cover.

Stir the polenta regularly (about every 4 or 5 minutes). A wooden spoon is best.

Give the polenta enough time to cook, about 30 minutes.  If it is getting too dry, add in room-temperature water or milk about ¼ cup as needed.

When the polenta is smooth and creamy (and as you like it), add in the butter and parmesan.  Stir to melt and combine.

Season with salt & pepper to taste.

The polenta is ready to serve at this point.  If you like, you can turn off the heat and let it rest, covered, for up to 20 minutes.

To dress it up:  add in some chopped fresh parsley or basil, or perhaps some crème fraiche or sour cream to up its creamy richness.

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