This is a great technique, way less work than the usual stir, stir, stir, and the results are just as good. I adapted it from a recipe in Paula Wolfert's "Mediteranean Grains and Greens." She adapted her recipe from one on the back of a bag of Polenta Company of San Francisco polenta. The owner of the company told her it was "an old paesan's mother's recipe from Tuscany."
2 tbsp. corn oil
2 cups Anson Mills Rustic Coarse Polenta Integrale or similar
9 cups water
2 tsp. salt
Put all ingredients in a dutch oven and stir until blended. Bake uncovered at 350 for 80 minutes, stir and bake another 10 minutes.
This makes a moderately soft polenta. If you want it firm for slicing, use only 7 cups water.
I don't think it's the oil; I make the same recipe from Paula Wolfert but I use butter. It comes out perfect every time, and it's great for dinner parties. You can make it as soft or as stiff as you like. Stirring it near the end is what I think keeps it from lumping. Definitely worth trying this method.
Here's another no-stir polenta recipe. It's from Sara Moulton, and is baked rather than done on the stovetop. Here's a paraphrased recipe--
4 cups water
1 cup yellow cornmeal or regular (but not instant) coarse polenta
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, thinly sliced
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly milled black pepper
2 oz. provolone cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup)
2 oz parmesan cheese, finely grated
Oven to 350F. Mix water, cornmeal/polenta, butter, salt, and pepper in a medium-sized baking dish. Do not cover. Bake on the uppermost shelf of the oven for 40 minutes.
Take the dish out of the oven, stir; bake for 10 more minutes.
Take the dish out of the oven, again; stir in provolone and salt and pepper. Let stand five minutes.
Top with parmesan.
(This is good also with mozzarella substituted for provolone. The original recipe recommends topping with cooked tomatoes, mushrooms, or artichokes.)
Yum! No work! :-)
And if you don't feel like heating up the oven, put it in the rice cooker. No stirring needed.
Is the Anson Mills a whole grain product? Is this polenta just ground corn, that is not processed in any way?
I buy Pheasant brand polenta in a paper bag from my local Independant Grocer. It works well, but is degermed, I'm sure.
I cook it in the microwave and it comes out fine to my taste. Only a couple of stirs midway. Seasoned with butter, cheese and herbs after it comes out. I use fresh and soft for dinner, or spread it on a sheet pan thinly to use for a lasagne-type stacked casserole.