Oven-Baked Polenta

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

  • Serves

    6

Appears in

The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen

By Paula Wolfert

Published 2003

  • About

This is hands-down the best polenta recipe I know, especially since it doesn't require stirring. 1 first presented this recipe in my Mediterranean Grains & Greens; I repeat it here for new readers.

This no-stir method—combining cornmeal, water, and a little salt in an oiled casserole and roasting it in the oven, as opposed to frequent stirring in a pot on the stove—produces wondrous, creamy, and seductive polenta. Cooking it this way takes longer than on top of the stove, but it will leave you free to take care of whatever else you'll be serving.

Varying the proportion of water to cornmeal enables you to adjust the consistency of the polenta from runny to firm, and enables the polenta to take on many guises from a simple steaming bowl of cornmeal mush served with a little grated cheese to a delicious bed for stews and ragouts.

FOR SOFT POLENTA 5 parts liquid to 1 part cornmeal

FOR MEDIUM POLENTA 4 parts liquid to 1 part cornmeal

Ingredients

  • 2 cups medium-coarse or coarse-grind cornmeal, preferably organic stone-ground cornmeal
  • 8 to 10 cups cool water
  • 2 tablespoons butter or extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 12-inch cazuela or ovenproof casserole. Add the cornmeal, water, butter or oil, and salt and stir with a fork until blended. (It will separate, but don't worry-it won't come together for more than half the cooking time.) Bake uncovered for 1 hour and 20 minutes.
  2. Stir the polenta with a long-pronged fork, season with additional salt to taste, and bake for 10 minutes more. Remove from the oven and let it rest for 5 minutes before pouring onto a wooden pizza shovel or into a buttered bowl.