when polenta says to cook it for 30 minutes or until thick, and it thickens after 3 minutes, what gives. Should I keep cookin?



marketmaster October 8, 2010
Boy, do I agree with flgal. The only way to make polenta is in the oven.

Her recipe will made a pretty firm polenta. Paula Wolfert (the cookbook writer who introduced so many of us to the delights of couscous and other Moroccan foods) suggests the following ratios—

Very soft polenta - 1 c. polenta : 6 c. liquid
Soft polenta - 1 c. polenta : 5 c. liquid
Firm polenta - 1 c. polenta : 4 c. liquid
Very firm polenta - 1 c. polenta : 3 c. liquid

She makes hers in a greased 12" non-stick skillet with 1 t. rather than 1 T. salt.

It makes perfect polenta everytime with almost no fuss. You can concentrate on making the rest of the dinner instead of stirring. Once you try it you'll never go back. I teach cooking classes and have had people with Italian backgrounds who have said, "Thank you, thank you." I always say "Thank Paula Wolfert."

I make soft for serving in a bowl with a topping and firm or very firm for cooling and cutting into rectangles or wedges for broiling or baking in a casserole with a sauce.
flgal October 7, 2010
Here is an easy way to make it in the oven.

Here's the GUARANTEED baked Polenta recipe:
Preheat oven to 350 F.
In a 1 to 1 1/2 quart casserole, stir together:
1 quart water
1 Tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (or more to taste)
1 cup course ground polenta
2 Tablespoons butter, cut into pieces

Place casserole dish on top rack & bake 40 minutes. Stir. Add cheese or anything else you want now.
Bake an additional 10 minutes. Remove from oven & let rest for 5 minutes. YUM!

Jon P. October 7, 2010
Cooking time for polenta is all about achieving a particular desired texture. A good polenta is smooth and creamy, not gritty. In my experience, polenta usually benefits from a few minutes of cooking beyond the point where I start thinking "yeah, this is pretty good." Usually, when I first think it is good and creamy, it could still use a few more minutes to become even more satisfying.
BklynBred October 7, 2010
I started following Bittman's advice, and haven't looked back since. Perfect polenta, every time. The video is quite helpful, too.

pierino October 6, 2010
For polenta I prefer to keep metric with 2 litres of salted water to 500 grams of fine cornmeal (polenta). Bring the water to a boil, salt it, and gradually add the polenta. Using the "classic" method with a long wooden spoon, the polenta should be "spitting" back at you. Keep stirring. If it bricks up on you after 3 minutes (per Mr.T's comment), it's the instant variety (which is not bad) and the the cooking time is about that 3 to 5 minutes. But you still have to wrangle it. If it is your regular vac-pac I would be prepared to stir and stir for that 20 minutes.I would also ask, how do you intend to plate it?
anyone October 6, 2010
The question states 30 min.
anyone October 6, 2010
I didn't mean to submit yet. Also you can replace stock for water. Chicken stock or mushroom stock vegetable stock or use whatever your protien is going to be. For example my favorite is a mushroom stock with a nice blue cheese folded in when serving a beef stew. You can flavor it any way you want.
mtrelaun October 6, 2010
You might want to check the box or bag your polenta came in. Is it instant polenta? Or the regular kind? Instant sets super quickly; the regular kind takes about 30 minutes to cook through.
anyone October 6, 2010
My question is what was you ratio of water to cornmeal. Iv'e noticed that a three to one ratio or less it will set up alot quicker than expected with out being fully cooked. A four to one works better in that it sets up about the time it's fully cooked and when I want it loose I go higher. 3 or 4 cup water/ 1 cup cornmeal.
thirschfeld October 6, 2010
well the issue here is cornemeal. Did you use find grind, medium or coarse. Some cornmeal is almost instant and then some is stone ground and very coarse and can take up to two hours to cook. If it is tender to the tooth and as thick as you want it, it is done. Some of the best polenta comes from Indiana corn and it is stone ground and can take up two hours to cook. The flavor is unreal but it is a commitment. never the less if you think it is done and you have the rest of your meal to cook take it off the heat, leave it cover, cook dinner and them rewarm it adding more liquid to loosen it up if you need to.
sixelagogo October 6, 2010
keep cooking if you like it creamy...i let it go 30-40 minutes until its supersmooth, no grit
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