JOANNA'S FOOD: family cooking, from scratch, every day

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Oven-baked polenta

This wonderfully easy new-to-me way to cook polenta comes from Paula Wolfert's terrific new book, Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking. There's none of that strewing cornmeal onto fiercely boiling water, followed by constant stirring. You just mix cornmeal, oil and cold water, put the resulting mess into the oven & let time do all the work for you. Amazingly, it comes out of the oven entirely lump-free. Not sure if it works in a metal pot, although I can't think why not.

Waitrose in Henley have just begun to stock bags of Italian stoneground cornmeal ... perfect for this, and for a loaf of cornbread later this week.

Oven polenta in a clay pot
for 6

2 cups cornmeal, stoneground if you can find it
2 tablespoons olive oil, or butter if you prefer
8-10 cups water (see note below)

Note: Paula Wolfert's instructions say: the consistency of the polenta is a factor in deciding how much liquid to use. For soft polenta, use 5 parts liquid to 1 part cornmeal and for firm polenta 4 parts liquid to 1 part cornmeal. She also specifies a wide, shallow dish; I cooked mine in a narrower, taller pot, and therefore didn't need so much water.

Preheat the oven to 180C. Stir the cornmeal, oil salt and water. Bake uncovered for one hour and twenty minutes. Stir, and bake for a further 10 minutes. Remove the pot from the oven. If you're using a clay pot, be careful where you put it or it will break; it will be safe on a folded kitchen towel, or on wood. Let the polenta rest for 10 minutes before serving.

You could spread it out flat to cool, for cut and grilled/fried polenta shapes. That's the thing to do with the leftovers (especially good if you stir in a little parmesan). But I couldn't bear to deprive my blue Orpington hens of the pleasure.


Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction said...

This is an interesting way to make polenta! I'll have to give it a try. Thanks for sharing!

GeraniumCat said...

Thank you for this recipe! I love polenta baked in the oven with fontina or taleggio but I've always made it as a 2-stage thing - prepared the polenta first and then baked it with the cheese. This way I could add the cheese a little before the end of the cooking time - after the final stirring, I should think, when I'd also stir in some parmesan, then crumble the other cheese over the top. If it works this new way it could quickly become a staple.

Sorina said...

This is just beautiful. Awesome Post!

Poshyarns said...

Your blog is quite the inspiration, I haven't come across this method before and rarely make polenta, for the obvious reasons. Time to try it again I think.

Joanna said...

Thank you all for kind words. As you say, reason to make polenta more often, lovely now that it's simplified


Candyce said...

Hi Joanna,
I am in California, but love English
literature (particularly Jane Austin), English comedy, and this wonderful English blog. I too make most of my family's food from scratch. Our family is prone to diabetes, heart disease and cancer and fresh food just tastes better1 Next week I am starting two cooking and baking classes for homeschoolers. I have a teen class and a class for kids 6-12. I will definitely be looking on your blog for healthy recipes. I am excited to try the polenta, I have been buying it pre-made in the tube and just slicing and frying, but recently had some incredible baked polenta at a restaurant, hoping your recipe will recreate what I enjoyed there. I will let you know!
Candy's Cafe

Joanna said...

Candy thank you for kind words about my blog. I am really excited to be in touch with someone just started cookery classes, because I am about to do the same. It would be good to share thoughts - if you'd like to, you can email at joannacary AT ukonline DOT co DOT uk


PS I've been away, but tomorrow I will explore your blog