Polenta

Polenta

By
From
Ben's BBQ Bible
Photographer
Billy Law

The Spanish brought corn to Europe from the New World, and it is now a staple of many cuisines. I particularly love the way the Italians have embraced it. When I worked at London’s River Café we served polenta every year, from late autumn into winter, while corn was in season. It’s important to use a good-quality, ground polenta; I find the coarser, bramata style is best. Try to avoid the quick-cook stuff — it just doesn’t have the flavour of the coarse, slow-cooking polenta.

The best part about cooking polenta is the fantastic crust at the bottom of the pan. We used to flght over the crust and add butter, parmesan and chopped chilli to it at the end. Gary, one of the Aussie chefs I worked with at the River Café, put me onto that little indulgence.

You will need to prepare the polenta in advance, as it has to set and then cool completely before it can be sliced and barbecued. Polenta can be served as a substitute for bread and it’s also fantastic to give to your vegan mates to fill them up! It’s a great accompaniment to grilled meats, especially pork, lamb or a great steak. Try the toppings I’ve suggested here, or simply top it with grilled field mushrooms and cheese.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
1.75 liters water
salt
300g polenta
100g unsalted butter
200g parmesan, finely grated
freshly ground black pepper

Method

  1. Bring the water to the boil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Season well with salt.
  2. Lower the heat to a simmer and slowly add the polenta in a continuous stream, stirring with a whisk until completely incorporated.
  3. Bring the polenta to the boil. It should take on a thick quality, like slowly bubbling lava. Turn the heat down to low, so it bubbles only every so often, and cook for 30–40 minutes, until the grains are only just soft. Stir from time to time, to prevent the polenta from catching.
  4. When cooked, stir in the butter, parmesan and pepper. Pour onto a wooden board or large plate and allow to set.
  5. When completely cool, cut the polenta into strips or wedges and barbecue on a grill rack until crisp.
  6. Check the sh after 40 minutes, when it should be just cooked. Remove from the barbecue and allow it to rest before serving.
Tags:
bbq
barbecue
outdoor
grill
entertaining
party
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