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No-stir polenta

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.

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  1. Wow! Do you figure the oil is what keeps it from lumping? That's the only non-standard thing about the recipe. Does Ms. Wolfert have anything to say about it?

    (Also--Do you send away for your Anson Mills polenta, or is there a source in the SF Bay Area?)

    4 Replies
    1. re: heidipie

      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.

      1. re: heidipie

        I think Anson Mills products are only available online. The Integrale is pretty amazing stuff.

        1. re: rootlesscosmo

          I have bought Anson Mills polenta from Boulette's Larder but have been purchasing it from Anson since then. Not exactly on line since you get to talk to the guy on the phone to get it now.

          1. re: wally

            It's cheaper to buy direct so I get a big order and freeze it.

      2. 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! :-)

        3 Replies
        1. re: expatslat

          That's basically the same recipe, only half the quantity. Does it work well?

          I bet she got that from Wolfert's book, since I saw Moulton make polenta on her TV show maybe three years ago and she remarked about how time-consuming it was.

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            Yes, it works very well, especially for lazy people like me. Interesting that Wolfert originated it!

            1. re: expatslat

              She didn't, as I detailed in my opening post. Though she definitely popularized the technique.

        2. And if you don't feel like heating up the oven, put it in the rice cooker. No stirring needed.

          1. Will a single-switch cooker work "automatically", or do you have to be able to program it like the Zojis?

            4 Replies
            1. re: MikeG

              I have an automatic with no settings, so haven't experiemented. I give it one stir near the end when I check it and haven't had any problems.

              1. re: Melanie Wong

                Just to get this straight - what sort of recipe would you use for the rice cooker? A no-stir one like the OP's? Or a standard recipe? I'd love to be able to do polenta in a rice cooker - how brilliant would that be?

                1. re: Nyleve

                  I have a no-stick rice cooker, so I use a standard stove-top recipe of polenta, water and salt (no oil), but I'm sure the oil doesn't hurt.

                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                    I don't have a rice cooker...has anyone tried a no-stir recipe with a slow cooker (or is there a different recipe for slow cookers?)?

            2. Questions:
              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.

              1 Reply
              1. re: toodie jane

                "Integrale" means whole-grain. Anson Mills Rustic Coarse Polenta Integrale is whole-grain. Some of their other products are not.

                http://www.ansonmills.com/page22/page...