Cheesy polenta porridge is a wonderfully comforting and simple side dish that pairs beautifully with everything from Ragu to Cacciatore!
The cooking of this dish takes a while but it is really easy, all you gotta do is give it a stir every 5 minutes or so and add cheese and butter at the end.
Creamy Soft Polenta
When it comes to comfort food sides dishes there are two that stand above all others as far as I am concerned! Mashed potatoes and a soft creamy cheesy polenta.
Polenta is essentially ground cornmeal, yup, dried sweetcorn ground up.
Slowly cooked in stock or water it forms a deliciously sweet and simple base for so many flavours.
There are a whole series of “lores” relating to the cooking of polenta… my approach is super simple.
Get the polenta going with a few minutes of constant cooking, then reduce the heat as low as it will go and give it a stir every 5-7 minutes.
Finally, I chuck through a load of sharp mature cheddar cheese and some butter at the end!
If you want a firmer polenta for frying then take a look at my polenta chips recipe.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I reheat soft polenta?
First of all, I will say that you should not make this too far in advance. Reheating soft polenta after it has been chilled overnight is more hassle than it is worth.
But if you want to make it an hour in advance you can reheat by slowly bringing it back to temperature on the hob. Simply add a little water or milk as required.
You can also do this in a microwave, give it 30-60 second bursts and stir. Again add more water or milk as required.
What is the difference between polenta and cornmeal?
Nothing at all! In fact, if you want to save a few pennies, quite often packets labelled as cornmeal are cheaper than those labelled polenta. This is particularly true in continental Europe!
Can I use a different cheese?
Yes, definitely! Pick a cheese that compliments the dish you are serving it with.
I will use everything from Cheddar to Gorgonzola and Gruyere to Parmesan depending on what this is partnering.
How do I know when polenta is cooked?
The grain size of polenta varies massively from brand to brand and as a result, cooking times vary massively.
That variation is as stark as anywhere between 20 and 50 minutes for coarse polenta!
When the polenta is cooked it should be soft and creamy and the individual grains should be chalky or grainy.
What should I do if the polenta begins to set?
If your polenta begins to set in the pan, you can add a touch more milk or water to thin it out.
This creamy polenta porridge is perfect served alongside a whole host of recipes.
It is particularly good in many places where you would use mashed potato! Particularly if it is loaded with cheese like my recipe.
I serve it in the picture above with my pork meatballs in a beer and BBQ sauce, and below with my pan-fried lamb’s liver but it would be equally good with my beer-braised beef cheeks or chicken and chicory recipe.
I only mention brands of equipment if I think they make a material difference to a recipe. If you have any questions feel free to ask them in the comments section below the recipe.
- 17-18cm or 7″ saucepan.
- Cheese grater.
- Weighing scales and or measuring cups and spoons.
- Stirring and serving spoons.
Originally an Italian peasant dish, a cheesy polenta is the perfect side dish for anything from a ragu to cacciatore and meatballs to osso buco!
- 85g (⅓ Cup + 1 Tbsp) Polenta
- 500ml (2 Cups) Water
- 100g (1 Cup) Cheddar Cheese
- 25g (1 Tbsp + 2 Tsp) Butter
- Bring the water to a boil in a 17-18cm or 7" saucepan.
- When you have a nice boil slowly pour in the polenta whisking as you go.
- Reduce the heat to a simmer and then continue to whisk for 2-3 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to very low and cook for 25-30 minutes stirring with a wooden spoon every 5-7 minutes.
- When cooked remove from the heat and stir in the grated cheese and butter until it has melted.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 326Total Fat: 29gSaturated Fat: 17gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 81mgSodium: 547mgCarbohydrates: 5gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 12g
Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.