How to cook Creamy Polenta

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Cooking polenta seems to be really easy, just follow the instructions on the packet. Yes, of course you can do that but I often turn a box or packet over to see their suggestions and they are all different. So follow these simple instructions and you will have a creamy polenta every time. It’s best served really hot topped with roast vegetables of your choice and lashings of olive oil. If you feel like a warm winter dish to cosy up to in front of the fire, check out my Hungarian Goulash.

There is a story to this post and if you are in a hurry to get to the recipe just click on the “jump to recipe” button to get you there. If you feel like a bit of a read…carry on scrolling where I share my insight into what I think I need to start my new year. Reflection helps us view our lives in the rearview mirror to ensure we can course correct and move closer to those things that inspire us, bring us joy and remind us to be grateful.

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Creamy Polenta served with boeff bourguignon
Old Year Reflections

We are not having the best summer weather at the moment. It’s been overcast and rainy, so I’m getting these recipes loaded. I am not languishing on a tropical island sipping piña colada’s. I am home for the holiday. I’ve started my new years resolutions early and I’ve got 3 daily tasks that I must do. Loading content is one of them, along with writing my Morning Pages and 30 minutes of exercise. With 2 days left of the year I feel I’m winning already. I’m trying small, bite size goals on for size this year. I feel that’s more manageable and gentle on my overloaded mind. I’m going to be kind to myself in a way that I don’t feel like a failure before I’m even off the starting blocks. I’m also going to be firm with myself so I don’t slacken off so much that I get nothing done because I feel it’s all too much to begin with. Making polenta is not sexy enough for an Instagram post, or I haven’t taken the best, styled photo’s that make you want to get in your kitchen and make polenta. This post is a typical behind the scenes in my kitchen post. It’s grungy and practical. It’s one where I just want to enjoy my dinner and not set up a studio of cameras and lights.

I’m in my zone and enjoying the flow

I’ve realised I love working quietly by myself when I do my best work. I’m in my zone and enjoying the flow. I also realised this year I can’t replicate that flow and zone space when I am hungry and Brian is looking over my shoulder making well meaning suggestions about getting out an extra light to capture it just right. I realized I mustn’t put that on Brian and make it his fault that I’m not getting the angle right or the mood right in the shot and then giving up in irritation. An extra light means, I’ve failed. It translates in my brain that way. It translates to more work and takes the joy and turns it into a mission I don’t have the energy for while our dinner gets cold and spoils under our scrutiny and bickering like an old married couple.

My kitchen is my office, but it is also our happy place where we come to enjoy each other’s company after our days of doing whatever it is we do to put the food on the table in the first place. It’s our happy place and that is our top priority to ensure it stays that way. In my new year, I will create a space for myself in my office kitchen that honours our common values and respects my creativity. I have realised in order to do this successfully I need to come home from work. Now that is very difficult to do when I am already home. I “work” in a way that has no set boundaries, like locking my office doors, getting in my car and driving home.

Kissing Brian at the door with “Hi honey, how was your day,” is a way to create that distinction between work and home. When it blends into an homogenised day with no rituals to break it, its a recipe to fuel burnout. So collectively we have recognised that I need to “work” in traditional hours and then switch off the lights and come home. It’s very hard, but its very necessary and I think it’s going to have a beneficial effect on achieving my goals.

I hope you take a moment to reflect on your life too and find a gently way to encourage yourself to achieve whatever it is you’d like to achieve in 2024.

So polenta is the post that showed up today. I want it at hand and easy to find when I want it. It may not be a sexy summer dish but rather a comforting winter dish. I hope you remember it in the winter months ahead if you live in the southern hemisphere. If you are in the northern hemisphere enjoy it now. It’s also very tasty with my boeuf bourguignon, but I haven’t loaded that recipe yet, maybe closer to winter. In the meantime try it with oven roasted vegetables for a meat-free Monday. It is basically corn that has been ground into a flour. It’s a staple in Italy and traditionally served best with roast or sautèed seasonal vegetables, meats or seafood. Cook it with water or stock, never milk. See here for my vegan stock for an added pop of corn flavour or if you want to add grilled prawns or seafood to your polenta make it with my prawn stock. Another alternative is mushrooms. In my porcini mushroom pasta substitute the spaghetti for my creamy polenta

How to cook Creamy Polenta

Ingredients

  • 1 cup polenta
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 5 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock

Finish off

  • butter, olive oil and or parmesan

Instructions

  • Add 1 cup polenta, 1 tsp salt and 5 cups chicken stock to a pot. Place on medium heat and bring to a bubble. Stir at this stage to ensure no lumps and clumps form and the ingredients are properly mixed together.
  • Turn the heat down to a gently simmer, put the lid on at an angle, leaving a steam gap for steam to escape and cook for 50 minutes stiring every 10 minutes.
  • TRUST me, the flavours take a full 50 minutes to develop and open up to become this most amazing creamy polenta.
  • The magic happens right at the end when you add knobs of butter, olive oil and or parmesan. The amounts you add will be a personal preference, but don't be schnoop, Think of when you make mash potatoes and add the butter and milk, that's kind of what you need here. As you add these, whisk ensure you create the proper blending. This also creates a lightness and fluffiness. I keep the pot on a low heat while doing this. Serve immediately while it is piping hot.
  • If you have leftovers try to pour them into a container while still warm as polenta hardens when cooled. Or leave it on a baine marie to keep warm. Once cooled you can cut into chips and air fry and serve with chilli mayonnaise.

Notes

Golden rule 5 cups liquid to 1 cup polenta
If you don’t have fresh stock you can use powdered stock.  In a  pinch, I use  2 tsp Ina Paarman chicken stock powder per batch of 1 cup polenta.  If you are caring for your kidney’s and watching your salt intake, it’s a good idea to make your own stock as the bought versions are full of salt. Check out my vegan stock recipe 
50 minutes minimum – whisk every 10 minutes
Chicken stock or water not MILK it’s too rich and it’s not authentic
Add butter, olive oil, and or Parmesan at the end

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