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Polenta: Comfort Food for Winter Meals

Tired of all the holiday sweets? Me, too! How about something homey and comforting to get us through January?

Polenta is homey, gluten-free comfort food for winter meals.

Polenta is homey, gluten-free comfort food for winter meals.

Perhaps polenta?

Polenta is the Italian word for what is called grits in the South or cornmeal in the rest of the U.S. Polenta can be chewy (especially when baked or fried) and fabulously filling. Yet, many cooks avoid making polenta because the traditional method requires several minutes of constant stirring over a cooktop and the inevitable, messy splatters.

Instead, I cook it in a microwave to save time and avoid the mess. I use a ratio of 1:3 (1 cup grits to 3 cups liquid) for stiff polenta; 1:4 or even 1:5 or 1:6 for softer polenta. If your broth is dark in color, your polenta will be a muddy yellow. If you use water, as I do, the polenta will be gloriously yellow (especially if you use Bob’s Red Mill corn grits which are simply gorgeous) but you will need more salt to compensate for the salt that would have been in the broth.

Now, what can you do with polenta? Eat it plain and simple (as in the photo) perhaps with a pat of melting butter. Or, serve it under stew, marinara, or grilled vegetables instead of rice or noodles. I often serve it as a bed for crab cakes, drizzled with cocktail sauce. It also makes a tasty hot breakfast cereal, liberally laced with pumpkin pie spice and sweetened with maple syrup or honey Polenta is comfort food at its best!

Carol’s Super-Easy Polenta©

By Carol Fenster

Once you try my microwave oven technique, you’ll see how easy it is. Leftover polenta stores nicely in the fridge.

1 cup GF corn grits by Bob’s Red Mill

3 to 6 cups cold water or gluten-free vegetable broth, such as Imagine No-Chicken

1 tablespoon butter or buttery spread

½ teaspoon salt, or to taste

Combine all ingredients in microwave-safe container. (I use an 8-cup glass Pyrex measuring cup to give the polenta plenty of room to simmer.) Lay sheet of crumpled waxed paper on top to prevent splatters. Cook on HIGH power in 10-minute increments, whisking between each increment, to reach desired consistency. Cooking times may vary depending on your microwave and polenta; mine takes two 10-minute periods for a total of 20 minutes.

Makes about 3 to 5 cups, depending on amount of water or broth.

3 comments to Polenta: Comfort Food for Winter Meals

  • Yum! I’ve only had polenta a few times that I’ve liked and I’m determined to figure out how to make it for myself in such a way that I enjoy it. This gives me inspiration. Thanks!

  • grammie "B"

    wow you picked one of my favorite foods. I’ve never heard of it being polenta though. It’s always been just grits to us southerner’s. Have you ever tried it with some cheddar cheese in it? When it is thru cooking I put some butter in it and then stir about a 1/4 cup shredded cheddar for each serving with some salt and pepper and it is sooo yummie to my tummy. Especially on a cold morning with a fried egg and bacon, or at night . My husband loved his with some butter and maple syrup. mmmm-mm you are making me hungry. My friend cooks hers and then puts it in a bowl with butter brown sugar and milk. , just like oatmeal. thanks for the suggestion .

  • Grammie: Glad you like one of my favorite comfort foods. It is so versatile; it sounds like you’ve found all the delicious ways to eat it.

Leave a Reply to grammie "B"




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