La Polenta

Basic Polenta

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Preparation info

  • Serves


    • Difficulty


Appears in

The Italian Regional Cookbook

The Italian Regional Cookbook

By Valentina Harris

Published 2017

  • About

Polenta is the basic staple starch eaten all over the north of Italy. Made from ground maize, it can be white or yellow, and comes in various different grades: fine, medium or coarse. The widely available quick-cook variety is frowned upon by purists who claim that only the real thing, which requires up to an hour of constant stirring, will have the correct flavour. Serve in a slab with some Gorgonzola on top, which melts over the hot polenta, or alongside a stew. It can also be served soft in a bowl with a stew, dressing, sauce or cheese on the top.


  • 1.75 litres/3 pints/ cups boiling water
  • 200-225 g/7-8 oz/scant 2 cups polenta flour
  • 200 g/7 oz Gorgonzola dolce or piccante, sliced, for serving (optional)
  • sea salt


  1. Put the water into a wide, heavy pan set over a high heat and bring back to the boil. Add a large pinch of salt.

  2. Trickle the polenta flour into the boiling water in a fine rain with one hand, while whisking constantly with the other.

  3. When all the polenta flour has been whisked into the water, reduce the heat to medium-low.
  4. Stir with a long-handled wooden spoon until the polenta comes away from the sides of the pan. This will take 40-50 minutes.

  5. Turn the polenta out on to a board and smooth it into a mound shape using spatulas. Leave it to rest for about 5 minutes.
  6. Cut the polenta into six thick slabs. Evenly distribute the Gorgonzola over the top, if using. Serve immediately, while still hot.