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This no-stir polenta is the perfect easy, comforting side dish! Polenta can seem intimidating, but with this simple tutorial you’ll be making it like a pro in no time.
This easy no-stir polenta seriously makes my world go round! I had avoided making polenta for a long time after a bad experience during my first attempt, where I found myself standing over the stove stirring for 20 minutes and being popped (and burned) by hot corn grits. As delicious as the resulting dish was, that kind of cooking has no place in my kitchen. Instead, I’m all about finding ways to make delicious dishes easy and accessible.
When we started brainstorming recipes for Cook Once, Eat All Week, we knew we wanted to incorporate a few slightly out-of-the-box starches, and polenta immediately came to mind! We came up with some stellar recipes, like a rustic casserole topped with shredded beef, caramelized onions, kale, and red wine sauce, and poblano peppers stuffed with polenta, shredded beef, and a delicious chipotle sauce, so the only question left was how can we simplify the process for making polenta?
The answer was to create a no-stir method, similar in style to our no-stir mushroom risotto! With a little bit of trial and error, we came up with this delicious no-stir polenta recipe that honestly takes about as much work as making a pot of rice, but yields a deliciously creamy side dish that is delicious in its own right or perfect as an accompaniment to many wintry dishes, like these Instant Pot Rustic Short Ribs.
The Best Type of Cornmeal for No-Stir Polenta
The trickiest part of making this no-stir polenta for the first time can be figuring out what type of cornmeal to buy, so let’s break it down!
- Pre-Made Polenta: This is the type of polenta you’ll find in your grocer’s refrigerated section or around the pasta aisle. This pre-made polenta tends to be pretty bland, which is why we choose to make our own instead!
- Fine Cornmeal: Much of the cornmeal you find on the baking aisle will be finely ground cornmeal, which is what you’d use to make something like cornbread. While you can make polenta with fine cornmeal, it will have a more porridge-like consistency, so we recommend avoiding it if possible.
- Stone Ground Cornmeal: This means the cornmeal was ground with a stone, which leads to a more varied texture in the cornmeal. While using stone ground cornmeal is fine for polenta, you want to make sure you aren’t using fine stone ground cornmeal.
- Medium to Coarse Ground Cornmeal: When you’re looking for cornmeal for polenta, you want to make sure you’re buying medium to coarse grind. This will yield the best consistency! We personally use Bob’s Red Mill polenta in this recipe.
How to Make the Best No-Stir Polenta
Now that you’ve got the right cornmeal, let’s talk about the keys to making this polenta!
- Make sure you salt the chicken broth before adding your cornmeal. You may still need to add a bit of salt at the end, but this will save you from ending up with bland, boring polenta.
- Cook the polenta on low heat. Keep the heat low when cooking, this will help ensure that the polenta doesn’t clump and stick to the bottom of the pot.
- Thoroughly whisk the polenta. Once the polenta has cooked for 10 minutes, you will need to stir it. At this point, it may look a little bit clumped, but once you whisk it and release anything stuck to the bottom of the pot it will continue to cook perfectly!
- Taste the polenta. Once the polenta is done, you’ll stir in the butter, a bit of black pepper, and then taste it. This is where you’ll determine whether it needs more broth (which will yield a smoother consistency), more salt, or if you want to add cheese (we say yes, always!). Once you make those additions, you’re ready to eat!
We hope this tutorial for our easy no-stir polenta has you feeling ready to make this delicious side dish!
- In a large saucepan, bring the broth and ¾ teaspoon of the salt to a boil over high heat.
- Reduce the heat to low, then whisk in the polenta and let it come back to a simmer.
- Cover and cook for 10 minutes, then whisk the polenta again, making sure to scrape everything up from the bottom of the pan. Place the lid back on the pan and cook for 15 minutes more.
- Stir in the butter and pepper, then taste and add add up to ½ teaspoon more salt, if desired.
- For creamier polenta, you can whisk in more broth or even heavy cream at the end until you reach your desired consistency.
- You can use any kind of cheese you'd like in this polenta! Goat cheese, parmesan, and gouda are some of our favorites.