“Stop Eating Polenta!!!”


It has been a very long, cold and snowy winter here in the Great White North. It’s now the last week of April and still the sun hasn’t made much of an appearance. The cold has kept most folks inside, hibernating – myself included. It’s the kind of weather that makes you crave warm, comforting foods, and for me – that is polenta my friends. I’ve consumed bowl after bowl all winter long while staring out my window at the endlessly falling snow. And once again – during the freakish snow storm last week I made it yet again. At one point I made polenta every single day for 2 weeks, which prompted my fitness-loving neighbour to yell at me on the way to our weekly boot camp fitness session – “Stop eating polenta!!!” she yelled. Her thought was that no amount of sweat was going to make up for a huge bowl of what she considered to be a diet disaster. However, the opposite turned out to be true, as somehow I actually lost 2 lbs during my polenta pig outs.

The upside to all of this polenta madness was finding the easiest way to cook it via trial and error. The traditional way involves much stirring and tending, which I was perfectly willing to do the first few days. As my unusual craving continued and my arm tired I decided to experiment with different cooking methods and note the results. Now my Italian mother-in-law will disagree with what I am about to suggest – shocking I know – but I found that after an initial stir with a whisk to break up any lumps, the constant stirring she suggests isn’t actually necessary. A few quick swirls with a wooden spoon every 4-5 minutes to prevent the polenta from sticking and burning seems to produce the same results as continual stirring. Go figure.


Basic Polenta

1 ½ cups (355 ml) chicken broth

1 ½ cups (354ml) water

Pinch of sea salt

1 cup (250 ml) yellow corn grits or polenta

2 tsp (10ml) unsalted butter

¼ cup (60ml) grated parmesan cheese

In a large saucepan, bring the broth, water and salt to a boil over high heat. Slowly stream in the corn grits, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer gently, stirring every 4-5 minutes with a long-handled wooden spoon, until mixture is very thick, and the grits are no longer grainy, about 25-30 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter and cheese. Makes four 1/2 cup servings.

Top with your favourite tomato sauce if desired.

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