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Why is my polenta like glue?

After having a delicious creamy polenta at L'Impero several weeks ago, I've tried to replicate it several times unsuccessfully. I've made it with water, whole milk, lowfat milk, half&half, cream, and all sort of combinations thereof. No matter what, it turns out with the consistency of paste.
I follow directions to a T, slowing whisking in the cornmeal and stirring constantly.
Any ideas or help is greatly appreciated. With the cooler weather, I'm excited about more warm dishes again!

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  1. Maybe you're stirring too much. Try frequently instead of constantly.

    1 Reply
    1. re: babette feasts

      Hmmm..maybe you're right. I'll try it again.

    2. Try this. The recipe calls for very coarse cornmeal but I use a very fine meal by Indian Head. If you have a Dean and Deluca nearby you can get it from them.

      Put 2 C. water in a 4 cup measuring cup and add a 1/2 tsp. salt. Microwave at full power for about 6 minutes. Give it a stir, cover with a paper towel and microwave again for an aditional 6 minutes. Then add 2 tbs. unsalted butter some freshly ground black pepper give it a stir to combine, allow to stand a few minutes and then serve. This should give you about 4 side servings and it is perfect every time.

      If you want to add cheese to the polenta, add it at the time you add the butter and pepper.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Candy

        Thanks-I'll try that. Do you add the cornmeal at the same time you add the water? Just wanted to clarify. I love this stuff and I'm determined to perfect my technique!

        1. re: dexters

          Absolutely. Put it all in at once and give it a stir and nuke.

          1. re: donbonus

            I kind of like my polenta gooey- even gluey, but I agree with donbonus- cut down on the creamy and you may decrease your goo factor.
            Using other flavorful liquids will still result in a wonderfully smooth polenta, but without the butterfat from the milk and cheese- just the nugget of finishing butter- you may get coser to the consistancy you desire.

          2. Precisely what kind of polenta or cornmeal are you using?

            1. Make sure you are not using instant polenta.
              The amount of water can vary. I start with 4 parts cold water to 1 part polenta. I also keep a kettle of hot simmering water on another burner. Bring the cold water and polenta to a boil over medium heat, stirring almost constantly. Once it comes up to a boil, turn down heat to low simmer and cook polenta, stirring occasionally, adding more hot water as needed. Depending on the polenta, it will cook in about 30 minutes. Depending on one's taste, it can have a little bite to the grains or very creamy. Continue cooking, adding more hot water, until your desired doneness. Season with salt, and if wish butter and Parm.

              1. Someone on this board years ago posted about polenta you make in the oven: I call it "hands-free." Use 1 part polenta to 4 parts water, a tablespoon of olive oil and salt to taste. Put all together in ovenproof dish. I can't remember the exact oven temperature offhand, but I'd go for 375, I think. Cook for 50 min, then stir and check consistency. Add butter, cheese, or whatever you want. Back in the oven for another 10 minutes. Go longer if you like it thicker.

                I'm so thrilled with this recipe I wouldn't make polenta any other way!

                1 Reply
                1. re: Kagey

                  I just posted the no-stir recipe the other day:

                  http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                  Without knowing what kind of polenta dexters is using, it's impossible to guess whether the cooking method's to blame.