The traditional way to make polenta is a pain to make, mostly because it requires a lot of hands-on work. The oven takes out most of the fuss. You’ll love it.
What Is Polenta?
I love polenta. If you haven’t had it before, it’s a creamy savory porridge-like thing, similar to grits. The difference is that they’re made from different types of corn and are ground differently. Grits tend to be very fine and almost mushy, whereas a polenta made from a good coarsely ground cornmeal has more texture.
I’ll admit that polenta doesn’t taste like much. It’s one of those foods (like noodles or rice) that work as a canvas for other flavors. It’s great with a sauce or even just with butter, garlic, salt, and pepper. Mixing in a little cheese never hurts.
Easier Oven Polenta
The problem with polenta is that it’s a pain in the butt to make. Generally, you bring some water to a boil and whisk in the polenta. Then you have to whisk for awhile until it’s really thick. At that point, you cover it and let it heat at a low temperature for at least 30 minutes, stirring somewhat regularly (every 5 minutes or so) to make sure that it’s not sticking and burning on the bottom or sides. Finally, you stir in butter and cheese and eat.
Because of that whole process, I rarely used to make polenta. But then I discovered that it’s actually easy to make it in the oven with very little fuss.
You pretty much just mix the polenta with hot tap water and then bake it. Pull it out to stir after 45 minutes. Stir in some cheese and let it bake for 10 more minutes. Finally, if it’s too thick, you stir in more hot tap water to get the texture that you’d like. That’s it. Pretty easy, right? I think you’re totally going to love this method. I know I do!
Baking polenta makes a once time-consuming dish an easy side. Just add hot water and let it bake. It’s super easy.
Listen to learn how to make this recipe, along with some great tips from Christine:
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 and ½ cups coarse cornmeal
- 1 tsp. salt
- 5 and ½ cups hot water
- ½ cup shredded mozzarella
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Rub a 9×13-inch pan with olive oil. Add cornmeal and salt to pan and stir. Add water and stir.
- Bake 45 minutes. Add cheese and stir.
- Bake another 10 minutes. Add more hot water and stir if you need to thin it (you can also add more water if reheating).
- Add more salt or cheese, if desired, when the polenta is done baking.