26 October 2010

Rosemary Polenta

Often as the weather turns cold, and my menu ideas turn to braises and roasts and stews in need of some type of base to sop up their lovely juices, I find myself at a loss. Pasta is pretty much banned in my kitchen, and so rice in all its varieties becomes a regular standby to sit alongside the real star of the meal. Quinoa and Millet sometimes make an appearance. Periodically mashed potatoes. But when I want something special, something that stands out on its own, something rich, tasty, and hearty, I turn to polenta.   
Yes, polenta. Poor mans' food to be sure, but this polenta is not just any old water-and-cornmeal based mush, but a richly decadent polenta created by Laurent Tourondel. I spied this recipe several years ago in a magazine, which I promptly clipped and then recently lost. No matter, I've adapted it numerous times, toning down what I recall as the original fatty-ness of it. Rather than cooking the polenta with water, Tourondel uses milk infused with rosemary, which if you're a fan of it, imparts amazing flavor to the otherwise humble polenta and takes the dish from seeming like old fashioned gruel to something you could eat on its own. 
Rosemary Polenta 
Adapted from Laurent Tourondel

3/4 cup of polenta - I used "Quick Cooking" medium grain, 100% Natural Stone Ground Cornmeal
1 1/4 cup milk - (2% or whole) 
1 cup water
3-4 sprigs of rosemary, bashed slightly with the side of a knife
1/2 teaspoon salt 
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Freshly ground pepper and more salt to taste

In a large saucepan add together milk, water, and rosemary. On low heat bring to a bare simmer and watch carefully for about 2 minutes, so the milk does not boil but the rosemary is able to infuse into the milk. Remove all but one sprig of rosemary and turn up the heat to medium-low. Slowly add the polenta stirring constantly with a whisk. Continue stirring until the polenta turns thick, about 2-3 minutes if that. A this stage you may begin stirring with a wooden spoon, and if the mixture is too thick and unwieldy you could add a tablespoon of water or milk to loosen it up - it should be the consistency of oatmeal but smooth and without any lumps.  

Add the butter, cheese, salt and pepper and mix thoroughly, then take off the heat and cover to keep warm. It may need another big stir when serving.  


  1. How many people would this recipe serve? Sounds lovely but 2 tablespoons of butter is a bit frightening!

  2. Hi Lizzy -- I would say this amount serves about 4 people. And yes, not the healthiest way to prepare polenta -- though you can certainly reduce the butter and cheese and just add a bit more water or milk in the beginning.


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