For many years I did not eat polenta. I had it once many years ago, and I remember it as very bland and I hated the texture. A few years later I had it again, didn't know it came with a dish I ordered and I was a bit grumpy when I saw the polenta on the plate before me. I had a small taste and OMG, it was amazing. Creamy, tasty and with a nutty taste of parmesan. I loved it. Isn't it funny how things can change like that? The first polenta I had was just poorly made, while this was made with love. This is my basic recipe for polenta. Enjoy!
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Basic polenta 
Serves 6 to 8  
10 cups cold water 1 tablespoon coarse salt 
2 cups coarse-ground polenta 
freshly ground pepper 
2 tablespoons unsalted butter 
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan 

1. Put 6 cups cold water and salt in a large pot, and bring to a boil. 2. Bring remaining 4 cups cold water to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. 3. Add polenta to the large pot. 4. Whisk constantly until combined. 5. Reduce heat until only a couple of large bubbles appear at a time. 6. Whisk 2-3 ladlefuls of simmering water into the polenta, stirring frequently with a spoon, until water has been absorbed. This takes about 5 minutes. 7. Continue to add 2 ladlefuls of water every 5 minutes, stirring often until polenta is creamy. 8. Season with pepper. 9. If you want soft polenta, stir in butter and top with parmesan.

4 servings soft polenta 
1/3 cup blue cheese, like Roquefort, crumbled 
4 chervil springs, for garnish

Creamy polenta with sautéed mushrooms 
Serves 4  
 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil 
2 shallots, thinly sliced 
2 pounds mixed mushrooms, like shiitake, button etc, trimmed and quartered 
1/2 cup Madeira 
3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley 
freshly ground pepper
  1. In a large skillet, heat butter and oil over medium heat.
  2. Add shallots, stirring until soft.
  3. Add mushrooms and cook stirring until golden brown.
  4. Add Madeira and parsley and cook, stirring to scrape up browned bits from the bottom of the pan, until liquid is reduced to half.
  5. Taste and adjust for seasoning.
  6. Serve on hot creamy polenta topped with blue cheese and chervil.


Photography by Colin Cooke

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