This polenta is like a hug in a bowl. Coarse cornmeal cooked until creamy and then topped with cheese, honey and mint, this dish is as perfect for breakfast as it is for a lunch or a lazy dinner. What I like best though is that the porridge present a perfectly blank canvas for other flavours. On other days, I've topped polenta with a creamy mushroom sauce. Once, I felt fancy and set the polenta in a tray and cut it into dainty squares that were topped with whipped feta and caramelised onions.
What's most important though is that base. Polenta can very easily go wrong so here's my tips for that perfectly cooked, creamy flavour:
1. Use a lot of liquid. This recipe used 6 times the volume to cook polenta in. And while there's nothing wrong with using plain water, mixing in something richer (milk in this case) gives you better results.
2. You want to add polenta slowly, almost like it's a rain shower, and you want to keep whisking it while you are adding the grains so there are no clumps and lumps in your polenta.
3. Finally, watch it like a hawk. Stir constantly. Do not walk away. It only sounds like a lot of work; it's actually only about 5-7 minutes of stirring.
Also, while the garlic powder and pepper are completely optional, I did think they made a huge difference to the final flavour.
Here's the full recipe.
1/2 cup polenta
1 cup milk
2 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp dried garlic powder
1/2 tsp fresh ground white pepper
Bring milk and water to a boil in a saucepan. Add the salt, garlic powder and white pepper. Stir to mix the spices. Slowly add the polenty, whisking the entire time. Turn down the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring all the time, until the polenta is thick and smooth. This should take 5-7 minutes.
Pour the polenta in bowls and add toppings of your choice. My favourites are salty cheese, mint and a drizzle of honey.
Alternatively, spread the polenta in a 1/2 inch thick layer on a baking sheet and let set for a couple of hours. Cut into 2 inch squares. Add 1 tsp olive oil to a nonstick pan and swirl to coat the base. Add the polenta squares and cook for 2-3 minutes, until slightly brown. Flip and cook the other side. Serve with toppings of your choice or alongside a stew.