Why You Should Turn Your Stove Off When Making Polenta

When experimenting with different cuisines, it seems like there is always one dish that becomes our Achilles heel. Foods that we sometimes think of as simple to make often wind up proving to be the most difficult to get right. Some struggle with creating the perfect crispy fried rice, while others find cooking a steak to perfection troublesome. Polenta is another recipe that can be challenging. Getting a polenta to reach a smooth, creamy consistency seems easy, but if anything goes wrong during the process, it can become lumpy or gritty. But with polenta, there's a trick that not only gets you a creamy texture but will also gift you some of your time back.


While you certainly have the option of slaving away over the stove for an hour constantly stirring your cornmeal, it's not necessary when making a great polenta. Instead, bring water or broth to a boil and take it off the heat. Slowly stir in your cornmeal until you achieve a gravy-like consistency, and then pop a lid on the saucepan. In roughly 45 minutes, your polenta should be set enough to add butter and seasonings to boost the flavor. You'll be looking at a smooth, satisfying polenta, and the best thing is that with this trick you only have to tend to it for about 10 minutes.

Add some fat and use the right cornmeal

While the polenta is soaking, all you have to do is let it be, leaving you time to attend to other dishes you're serving. When you remove the lid, the polenta may be stiff, but this isn't a concern at this stage. In fact, it's an opportune time to add butter and other cheeses for depth of flavor. Once the fats are incorporated, the polenta will reach a creamy texture with just a quick whisk.


This time-saving trick to making the perfect polenta works best when you use the right type. A coarse-grained yellow cornmeal is what you want for a consistently creamy end-product, and avoid fine-grained varieties as they will end up too mushy and you'll be missing that satisfying bite. Plenty of cornmeal brands are labeled that they are they're designed specifically for making polenta, so keep an eye out for these when doing your own.

Ways to serve polenta

Now that you have the perfect polenta, the question is what to do with it. You can always serve it in its immaculate creamy form topped with shrimp, roasted pork, or grilled veggies, but another creative way to eat polenta is to let it set completely and cut slices off to be grilled or fried. Once it has cooled to room temperature, simply put it in a shallow baking dish in the refrigerator. After it takes on a firm texture, it's ready to be sliced and served however you like. A batch of polenta will keep in the fridge for about three days, so don't wait too long to use it.


Turning off the oven when you make polenta will get you the creamy results you're looking to achieve with your polenta, and it will also give you time to tend to other things. It's the perfect side to make while entertaining at a dinner party when you would rather mingle with guests than stay in the kitchen. Set polenta can also be a welcome addition to a BBQ, where you can grill off slices for guests. However you decide to use it, save yourself some time by taking it off the heat and letting it do the work for you.