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Flavorful Fridays: Basic Polenta with Bolognese Sauce

May 20, 2011

Polenta is one of those Northern Italian meal staples that I didn’t like when I was younger. I believe that it was the idea of polenta rather than polenta itself that I didn’t like. It wasn’t until several years ago that I tried it again and loved it. And, unfortunately, it wasn’t until a week ago that I actually made it for myself the first time. Now, that I know I like polenta, and I know how to make, it I’m determined to cycle this simple meal into my rotation of staple dinners.

Polenta is made from cornmeal. It can be made a variety of different ways and served with different meats and sauces. Served with meat, it make a very hearty and filling meal. Below is the recipe I adapted from Marcella Hazan and served with homemade bolognese sauce. The traditional method of cooking polenta requires consistent stirring for the 45 minutes it cooks, however, I have included a minimal stirring method below. Check back next week for what I did with the leftover polenta!

Basic Polenta

Adapted from Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking


7 cups water

1 Tablespoon salt

1-2/3 cups coarse-grained Italian yellow cornmeal

1/2 Tablespoon rosemary

3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan


Bring the water to a boil in a large, heavy pot.

Add the salt, keep the water  boiling at a medium-high heat, and add the cornmeal in a very thing stream. The entire time you are adding the cornmeal, stir it with a whisk, and make sure the water is always boiling.

When you have put in all the cornmeal, stir with a long-handled wooden spoon for 2 minutes, then cover the pot. Adjust heat so that the water bubbles at a lively simmer, but not at a full boil. When the polenta has cooked for 10 minutes, uncover and stir for 1 full minute, then cover again. After another 10 minutes, stir again, then cover, let cook another 10 minutes, stir once more, and in 10 minutes, repeat the procedures.

Forty minutes will have elapsed, and the polenta will need another 5 minutes to shed its graininess and come together into a soft, creamy mass. Just before you take if off the heat, stir it vigorously for about 1 minute, loosening it from the pot. Add the rosemary and Parmesan cheese, stirring until incorporated. Spoon polenta into bowl and spoon bolognese sauce on top. Serve and enjoy!


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