January 21, 2010

Ligurian Baked Polenta


Polenta mixed with milk and water, baked, and with cheese incorporated
Ligurian Baked Polenta is the Italian version of Cheesy Grits

I've always found polenta (grits) to be a lot of work, easy to burn, and not really worth the effort and risk. Then I read a simple baked polenta recipe from Liguria in Essentials of Italian Cooking and gave it a try. The result was creamy goodness with almost no effort, a definite winning combination!


Ligurian Baked Polenta


The essential information is the ratio of 3:2:1 for water, milk, and polenta, by volume rather than weight. You'll need about ¼ cup of polenta for each generous portion, so for four servings you'll need 3 cups of water, 2 cups of whole milk, and 1 cup of polenta. Mix those ingredients in a 2-quart baking dish and bake at 375°F (190°C) for one hour.

Remove the baking dish from the oven. Stir in two tablespoons or so of unsalted butter and a generous amount of crumbled or grated cheese--gorgonzola and parmigiano reggiano are recommended. Taste and add some salt if needed, then return to the oven for a few minutes to melt the cheeses and meld the flavors.

Serve as-is or with marinara sauce or your favorite polenta topping. I'm not sure whether you can use the left-overs for frying or grilling because I have yet to have left-overs!

Shrimp and Grits

Update: I recently used this technique to make the best Shrimp and Grits I've ever tasted. For the cheese I used  Vermont Sharp White Cheddar. As the "polenta" neared the end of cooking, I sautéed diced red bell peppers and diced onion with Andouille and shrimp. Then I mixed everything together for service. Was it ever delicious!

19 comments:

  1. Oh my! How delicious does this look? Thanks so much for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is an interesting and delicious looking recipe. We usually cook it on a stove in a cast iron pot, we have a traditional dish called Mamaliga in Ukraine it's different than Italian style polenta, next time I will try your recipe, thank you for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I love polenta, but you're right - it can certainly be cantankerous. Any and all tips are appreciated! Thanks for sharing yours.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Brilliant. I look forward to trying this, perhaps with lamb shanks osso bucco style this weekend!

    My best, Pam

    ReplyDelete
  5. I still haven't tried polenta! I know, I live in a box.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I am new polenta and with having my wisdom teeth out just yesterday, I am searching out great soft foods. I really like this dish and I hope I'm out to making it post-op. Cheers!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Never thought about the ratios. We eat polenta more and more here. This looks delicious and easy.

    ReplyDelete
  8. This sounds incredible! I can understand why there are never any leftovers. I'm going to have to try this soon.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I love your blog and your instructions using classic technique. Once someone has mastered these they can cook anything!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Excellent! I'm a sucker for all things corn meal. I'm feeling braised short ribs and this polenta for Sunday dinner this week. Thanks for the recipe!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thanks for another nice recipe, Gareth. I'll give it a shot, even though in the past polenta has caused me grief. The ratio is key. The ratio is key. My new mantra!

    ReplyDelete
  12. [...] that plate with polenta around and you’ll find pollo alla cacciatora, or chicken cacciatore. It’s really a [...]

    ReplyDelete
  13. If this is the polenta you served in class, it was delicious. I will make it soon.

    ReplyDelete
  14. It is. Frankly, it's the best creamy polenta I've ever had.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Gareth, I just wanted to tell you I made this polenta last night, and it was soooooooo good. I used corn meal instead of polenta which messed with the ratio I think. I'll reduce the liquid a little next time. But the taste was fabulous.

    This morning I sliced the refrigerated leftovers and sauteed them in a lightly oiled pan. A little messy since the polenta wasn't as thick as it could have been, but the taste was amazing. The parmesan cheese gave the crust a delicious crunchy cheese-straw like flavor.

    A new regular in my recipe rotation!! Thanks again!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Thank you! I'm glad it turned out well for you and really appreciate hearing about how the leftover polenta hardened enough to fry. I assumed it would but hadn't had the chance to test it myself.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I love polenta because it has always been so quick and easy, but you do have to watch it closely! You might also like trying 3 cups water with chicken boullion in it, bring to boil, add 1 cup chopped chard or kale and 1 TBS olive oil, cook for a few minutes until soft, then add 1 cup polenta stir freq & well, spoon into pie dish and dizzle lighly with olive oil. Yum! The chicken stock gives it great flavor.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Gareth, the indirect heat of oven baking sounds promising. Thanks for the ratio and also for your delicious "improv" on Shrimp & Grits!

    ReplyDelete