This polenta with parmesan recipe will bring the traditional Italian taste in your home. Take the time to dedicate a rustic yet appetizing winter treat to yourself and your family.
Italy is a dream destination for anyone who loves exquisite food and full-bodied drinks. Italian cuisine allows you to explore the Mediterranean country and its delights without having to travel. You can “taste” the roman country by cooking popular and delicious dishes like pasta or pizza recipes.
However, pizza and pasta are not the only mouthwatering dishes of Italian cuisine. If you really want to savor Italian treats, you should also try risotto, lasagna, minestrone, salads with mozzarella and of course, polenta with parmesan.
What is Polenta
Today, I will share with you one of my childhood dishes. Polenta is an authentic Italian dish that has different variations in different parts of the world. This recipe I bring to your attention is very creamy, hearty and incredibly soft.
The consistency of this dish is somewhere near porridge. The basic polenta is prepared out of the water and coarsely ground cornmeal. The more qualitative the cornmeal is, the more delicious the result will come out. Good cornmeal swells well and releases the sweet corn aroma when properly cooked. On the contrary, poor quality cornmeal may end up in a bitter and bland polenta.
To transform the porridge into a creamy and tasty dish, Italians add butter, stock and lots of parmesan to it. The result is always terribly delicious.
History of Polenta
In the Middle Ages polenta was a cream made from shredded beans cooked with oil, onions and sometimes with the addition of cereals such as buckwheat. Therefore, it was considered the food for the poor. Closer to the 1700s, the beans were replaced with cornmeal and became a typical dish in northern Italy. Polenta has always been used as a substitute for bread, as a side dish, accompanied by other foods, or cut into slices and toasted or fried.
Currently, like many other poor foods, polenta is experiencing a period of rediscovery as a gastronomic dish.
How to Boil Cornmeal?
People boil polenta in both cold and boiling water. However, it is a better idea to add cornmeal to cold water and then bring everything to a boil. I used to add cornmeal to already boiling water for a very long time, but I always ended up with a few little burns on my hand. That is because I was doing it wrong. Thanks to my friend Nataly, I stopped getting burns on my hand every time I cooked polenta. She revealed that it is best to add cornmeal in cold water at the beginning of the cooking process. There is a logic and scientific explanation for that. The starch consistency in cornmeal is about 90%. As you already know, if you add starch to boiling water, the result is a lumpy mess which is very hard to be smoothened. I have to say the truth, my arms always hurt when mixing the consistency to homogenize everything.
What are the Proportions?
- Always measure cornmeal and water/liquids with the same cup to have a ratio of 1:5. If you don’t have the wonderful instant pot yet, you’ll need a pot with a double or triple bottom. Take your best pot, one that distributes heat evenly as much as possible. This way, the polenta will not stick to the bottom and you won’t have to mix non-stop in it.
Ingredients for Polenta with Mushroom Stew?
For the Polenta with parmesan recipe, you will need water, broth, cornmeal, butter, parmesan, and salt. Still, if you don’t have broth, that’s ok. Only water will do just fine. Polenta without broth comes out delicious as well. Actually, authentic polenta does not include broth. Italian peasants used very simple ingredients to make it.
For the sauteed mushrooms you’ll need champignon mushrooms, 3 tablespoons olive oil, 3 garlic cloves, dried Italian herbs, 1/3 cup dry red wine and 1 teaspoon starch to thicken the consistency.
How to Cook Polenta?
Pour 4 cups of cold water and 1 cup of broth in the Instant Pot. Add 1 teaspoon of salt. Slurry ⅕ cups of cornmeal in cold water always stirring with a whisk, and close the lid. Select the “boil” program and press the “Start” button. Let all together come to a boil. Once it gets to the boiling point, change the Instant pot program to “porridge”. Allow polenta to simmer for another 30 minutes to reach a flawless result. The key to a perfect homogenized polenta is to constantly stir every 5 minutes. It is worth every effort. The reward for patience and dedication is polenta with a delicious taste and texture.
When the cornmeal grains have swollen, it is the right time to add butter and parmesan cheese. In the end, add these ingredients and press the “stop” button on Instant Pot.
How to Make Polenta Creamy?
Start with adding butter to the yellow sunny colored polenta. Throw in 2-3 chunks of butter and stir so it melts and is uniformly absorbed by the Italian country porridge. Considering that you’ll be adding parmesan, which is a salty cheese, avoid using salted butter as to not exaggerate with saltiness.
Grate parmesan, or buy it already grated. Grana Padano is my all-time favorite parmesan, but you can choose whatever you like most. Throw in two cups of grated parmesan and stir.
It is ready to be poured and devoured alone or with a mushroom stew-like mine in the picture.
How to Saute Mushrooms with Red Wine?
Put a frying pan on the stove, add some olive oil and throw in a few garlic cloves. In the meantime, chop as many mushrooms as you feel like. I have about 6 cups of chopped mushrooms because I had to feed 6 people.
Saute the mushrooms on high heat for about 10 minutes. Cover the frying pan with a lid for the first 5 minutes. Thus, the heat reaches evenly all mushrooms from the pan. Mix once in a while. Take off the lid so the liquid evaporates. Dissolve 1 teaspoon of starch in 1/3 cup water then add it to the mushrooms. Then pour in the wine. Mix everything and let simmer for 1-2 minutes. Season everything with salt and pepper. It is ready!
How to Serve Polenta?
This easy to do polenta is served in combination with so many dishes. You can serve it with meat stews, bolognese sauce, mushrooms gravy or with soft fried or boiled eggs. Polenta can be the garnish for rustic foods, but also for more elegant dishes.
Today I was craving woody mushrooms, so I made a saute. I topped polenta with the creamy mushrooms and it was heavenly good. If I inspired you, serve your polenta with the red wine sauteed mushroom quick recipe.
Instant Pot Polenta with Mushroom Stew
- instant pot
- frying pan
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 1 cup broth
- 4 cup water
- 2 cups grated parmesan
- 1 cup butter
- 1 tsp salt
Red Wine Mushroom Saute
- 6 cups mushrooms chopped
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1/2 cups olive oil
- 1/2 cups red dry wine
- 1 tsp starch
- 1/4 cup water cold
- 1 tsp dry herbs italian
- 1 tsp salt
How to cook Polenta
- Pour 4 cups of cold water and 1 cup of broth in the Instant Pot and add 1 teaspoon of salt
- Slurry ⅕ cups of cornmeal in cold water always stirring with a whisk, and close the lid
- Select the “boil” program and press the “Start” button. Let all together come to a boil
- Once it gets to the boiling point, change the Instant pot program to “porridge”. Let simmer for another 30 minutes
- Constantly stir every 5 minutes
- After 30 minutes, press the “stop” button on Instant Pot
- Add 2-3 chunks of butter and stir so it melts and is uniformly absorbed
- Throw in two cups of grated parmesan and stir
How to cook Red Wine Mushroom Saute
- Put a frying pan on the stove, add some olive oil and throw in a few garlic cloves
- In the meantime, chop about 6 cups of mushrooms
- Saute the mushrooms on high heat for about 10 minutes
- Cover the frying pan with a lid for the first 5 minutes. Thus, the heat reaches evenly all mushrooms from the pan. Mix once in a while
- Dissolve 1 teaspoon of starch in 1/3 cup water then add it to the mushrooms
- Pour in the wine. Mix everything and let simmer for 1-2 minutes
- Season everything with salt and pepper