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Polenta with Asiago Cheese

Recipe reprinted with permission from Feeding the Whole Family (third edition) by Cynthia Lair (Sasquatch Books, 2008)

Corn was used as a dietary staple for tribes in North and South America.  Today in the US, 3/4 of our corn produced is used for feeding livestock.  Polenta is coarsely ground corn meal that is cooked and served as a kind of mush or cooked, allowed to set and then sliced. To buy polenta
click here.

2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
3 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon + 1-2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil or butter
1 cup
polenta or corn grits
4-6 tablespoons
or pecorino cheese
cup fresh corn kernels
Extra virgin olive oil

Bring stock and water to boil in a
heavy stock pot.  Add salt and 1 tablespoon oil or butter.  Slowly add polenta, stirring continuously with a whisk.  Turn heat to low and continue stirring in a clockwise motion with a wooden spoon for 30 - 40 minutes, adjusting heat to maintain a soft puckering of the polenta. The goal is a smooth and thick polenta that looks creamy, grains are less individual. 

Stir in the cheese and corn kernels a few minutes before you pour out the polenta.  Lightly oil a pie plate or 8x8 baking dish.  Pour polenta into pan and smooth the top.  Polenta must be completely cooled to set properly.  This will take about 45 minutes to an hour (depending on the room temperature).

Serve polenta at room temperature or re-heated. To re-heat, preheat broiler.  Brush top of polenta with a little olive oil and broil 3 minutes.  This re-heat may also be done on a grill (yum). 

Preparation time: 50 minutes plus cooling time
Makes 8 slices


Jerry Hallberg
I'm taken with your show. It all started when my husband heard your interview on Seattle public radio (KUOW/KPLU?). Our first recipe was red soup, a nice way to take the chill off. Here's my burning question: Where's Joaquin?
August 10, 2009, 8:27 am

Sally Gore
Cooking up Cynthia's wonderful recipes in the great outdoors! Our videos are no match for yours, but still we had fun and the polenta... FANTASTIC! Thank you for the recipe! (
August 16, 2009, 7:14 am

Veronica Leonard
Cynthia, I live in a small town in Ontario, Canada and I cannot find polenta at my local grocery store/natural food store. Would cornmeal serve just as well? I can also find hominy grits at my local bulk food store. HELP! I would love to make your polenta recipes!
May 5, 2011, 12:15 pm

I love your site and I look forward to getting my weekly e-mail and recipe. I am in the Seattle area too, so I can relate to your comment about the shivering tulips. We did get some sun last weekend though, so I got caught up on my yard work. When I came in I thought I had gotten a little tan, but it turned out to be rust... :-( Gotta love the Seattle spring weather!
May 5, 2011, 1:31 pm

Rita Munn
I am eager to write and tell you how much your show has inspired my particular journey with whole foods and cooking. I started teaching a small group of children basic cooking skills using your videos as our inspiration (you sent me a sampling of video shows). In addition the students and I prepared a meal once a week for members of our cooperative school highlighting the fresh, local produce that is celebrated in Tn. But probably the most wonderful part of the journey for me was the confidence to fulfill a lifelong dream to have a small organic bakery. After taking the required course work through the Dept. of Agriculture in Tenn.and passing the required inspection for liscensure, my home kitchen became a Domestic Kitchen. Under this program I am liscensed to sell baked goods (excluding cheesecake due to the egg content), jams and jellies. I am thrilled as this may be the first step for me to opening a small independent bakery which uses local ingredients. But my story does not stop there. I applied for and received certification to be part of the Pick Tenn. program sponsored by the Dept. of Agriculture. You can find our little in house bakery on thier website (Pick Tenn.). We call ourselves Doorstep Bakery. Thank you so much for your program and especially for being so generous with your time and talents. I appreciate both very much. Again thank you.
May 5, 2011, 2:48 pm

Tomena Reed
Okay Cynthia! I just got the best idea. You could share a weekly menu with us! What do you eat each week? I'd love to know. As a busy mom of 5 (gunna be six kids.. who I want to feed good whole food) I am always looking for those pre-made meal plans or online meal planning websites. I've yet to find one that uses ingredients that I want to feed my family. I'd be the first to sign up! If you're even thinking about doing this please email me! Keep up the great show! kids whatched 5 episodes today... my oldest loves Jane and keeps watching to see if she's going to get together with what's-his-name and my boys couldn't stop laughing at Darrell and they all want to know why they can't see Captin J.
May 5, 2011, 4:32 pm

Richard Frank
I've seen polenta in J's but it's moist in a packet. Where do I find dry polenta like you had?
May 5, 2011, 9:53 pm

Mary Davies
Fun show. But I wonder why you have to stir so much? When I make polenta, I stir polenta into cold broth, cook and stir until it thickens, then put the lid on and cook over low heat until done. (Of course, I make my risotto in a pressure cooker too.) I send the love from the living room, where I'm reading while it cooks.
May 5, 2011, 10:09 pm

Cynthia Lair
Corn meal doesn't work as well. Here's a link to buy corn grits:
May 6, 2011, 10:03 am

Nikki Lindqvist
Help! I want to try this so bought polenta at our store this morning. But when I read the instructions on the back, it says you add the polenta to the boiling veg buljong and simmer for 6 minutes! Does that mean I have the wrong kind of polenta? Is this some kind of 'instant' polenta? (I live in Sweden and this is the only kind at my store.)
December 29, 2011, 3:40 am

Cynthia Lair
Hi Nikki, Yes there is an instant polenta on the market. It comes from Argentina. It does not work with this recipe. Tastes a bit different too.
December 29, 2011, 8:51 am

Do you have to let it set before you eat it? Or can it be eaten right away, similar to oatmeal?
January 4, 2012, 4:01 pm

Cynthia Lair
Hi Chris, Thanks for writing in. Yes to both. The polenta needs time to set if you want to slice it and eat it firm - my favorite. But others like to eat it soft like mush.
January 4, 2012, 4:35 pm

Talia Melo
So....which way do you stir if you live south of the equator?
February 13, 2014, 11:10 pm

As delicious as ever! Always a big hit with the Black Bean Chipolte Stew.
September 14, 2015, 6:31 pm

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