After our honeymoon to Boston (more specifically after those amazing polenta sticks at The Savant project) I had polenta on the brain.

Albany John told me to look in The Microwave Gourmet, a book on cooking in the microwave, by Barbara Kafka.

Listen to Ms. Kafka. She really knows her shiz.

At first I was all “Ew, no. Microwaves kill just about anything.”

But Albany John had made some really good chicken paprikash, plus various other dishes from that book with a high success rate, so I figured I’d give it a whirl. If it sucked, well, it was just cornmeal, so what did I really have to lose?

Not a darned thing as it turned out!

I made the soft polenta recipe. It has the texture of porridge, or perhaps a bit thinner. Not only is this dish extremely frugal, but it is also insanely quick and easy to whip up as a side dish, main dish, or very filling snack.

What I love about the microwave is that there is no need to be perfectly exact with your ingredients or time. If you add a little too much water, just cook it a little longer in the microwave. If you cook it a little too long, it’s just a bit thicker.

I’ve also found that you really don’t need THAT much butter. I put in just enough to keep it all together. Something like half a teaspoon in the 1-2 person serving size. It is so creamy and unctuous; you will be in heaven.

Here’s the recipe for a gigantic amount:

4 C water
¾ C yellow or white cornmeal
2 t kosher salt
3 T butter
1/8 t pepper
¼ c softened cheese, or more butter

Combine water, cornmeal and salt in 2-quart dish. Cook uncovered at 100% for 6 minutes. Stir well, cover loosely with paper towel, and cook 6 minutes more. (if using a small oven cook 9 min for both)

Remove from oven. Stir in butter, pepper, cheese, let stand 3 minutes. Serve hot

For 1 or 2 (what I use):Quarter all ingredients (use 3 T cornmeal). Cook for 1 minute 30 seconds, cover and cook an additional 30 seconds.

  1. Mr. Dave said:

    I am a huge cornmeal fan. Give me polenta, grits, mush, whatever and I am happy. My favorite it to make a fairly stiff polenta, put it in a bowl, and ladle over some homemade minnestrone.

  2. Grace said:

    to me, polenta is like fancified grits. in other words, i love it. 🙂

  3. jmp said:

    I prefer a stiffer polenta too. I like to cut it into squares and top it with mozzarella and tomato sauce.Also, substituting broth for some of the water makes an extra tasty polenta.

  4. Polenta is very popular in my house. I like it runny, along the line of grits (as grace mentioned).Talk about a cheap starch.I usually make it with chicken broth.

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