Thermomix excels at helping us master recipes that require stirring while heating – a function that makes it perfect for tempering chocolate, cooking risotto, reducing sauces and so much more. Add Polenta to the list. The rustic side dish made of ground corn that is (usually) long-cooked and stirred to creamy perfection works as counterpoint to many savory complements. With Thermomix in the kitchen, polenta is an easy and inexpensive recipe add-on that’s all done before the table is set! So why not make polenta the main event? If you haven’t tried it yet let’s get started —
For basic polenta I use a personalized version (below) of the quick “Cheesy Polenta” recipe from page 52 of the Thermomix “Meat on the Menu” cookbook. Polenta does not need to have cheese in it and as such it’s not really a frugal dish, but once you’ve tasted it this way, it’s nearly impossible to go back.
If there’s no fine polenta meal in the larder, just make your own by grinding white, yellow or purple popcorn kernels in the Thermomix at speed 8-10 until desired consistency is reached. Some people like a coarser, grittier polenta, and some prefer a velvety cream. (Keep in mind that finely ground polenta meal cooks faster with consistently creamy results.) For the purple polenta fries above I created a fine 50/50 blend or cornmeals from pretty organic purple corn (found at the health food store) and popcorn kernels. Too easy!
In its simplest state the soft and grainy comfort food works well with most meats, vegetables, and stews. But don’t stop there — cooled polenta (of any color) can be formed, fried, baked or broiled to satisfy the whims of any creative cook. Just pour hot polenta into a glass or tin pan and allow it to set, then cut into strips or cubes, add a bit of oily this or that, a sprinkle of seasoning, a short time in the oven or fry pan and voila — Polenta Fries! Extremely popular at parties :)
Consider serving these fries with a home-made dip such as Dijon mustard blended with Thermomix yogurt — or curried yogurt — or chili ketchup.
Or how about “Polenta Puppies” — roll polenta into a log shape with something fun in the middle to create a festive brunch when topped with plain or seasoned yogurt. (I’ve never sweetened the polenta itself but don’t that stop you from inventing your own sweet or fruity treat… using mascarpone instead of hard cheese… with berries or vanilla and maple syrup anyone?) Please people — play with your polenta. Like the Thermomix pizza recipe, polenta is a fun culinary canvas waiting for your creative touch.
- 2-4 cloves garlic
- fresh rosemary leaves, from about 2 sprigs
- 200 g. (7 oz) hard cheese, cubed (choose Parmesan, Asiago, aged Cheddar, or Jarlsburg)
- 1000 g. (35.3 oz) water
- 250 g. (8.8 oz) fine polenta meal (or grind your own corn!)
- 50-55 g. (1.8-1.9 oz) butter
- optional seasonings: basil, oregano, chili flakes
- optional ingredients (see notes below): pitted chopped black olives, feta cheese
- Prepare ingredients by weighing out the polenta meal. If starting with kernels such as purple corn or popcorn begin by grinding these for about 1 minute/speed 9-10. (This is extremely noisy so increase speed gradually and consider protecting the ears.) Check the size of the grind and repeat if necessary. The aim here is to get it down to a powder -- something like flour if possible.
- Grate the hard cheese by milling for 10 seconds/speed 10 and reserve in a separate bowl.
- Drop garlic cloves and rosemary through hole onto spinning blades and chop for about 6 seconds/speed 6.
- Push herbs down sides of bowl with spatula and add water. Heat 7 minutes/Varoma temp/speed 3.
- Reset Thermomix to cook for 3 minutes/Varoma tem/speed 3 and add polenta meal through hole in lid as blades spin below.
- Add cheese and butter while increasing speed to speed 8 for about 45 seconds creating an evenly blended creamy mixture. Proceed to serve hot or allow to cool for making fries -- see serving notes below.
- Notes about serving: If using as a side dish, serve immediately or keep warm. If making polenta fries or fried polenta this is an easy do-ahed that can be prepared a day in advance. Spread the warm polenta in a lasagna pan or cake tin that has been greased or lined with parchment. Allow to cool or chill before cutting into wedges or cubes for frying.
Note about optional ingredients: When using feta I usually replace about 50 g (1.8 oz) of the hard cheese with crumbled feta and add this with the other cheese and butter. (It's best not to add feta to the bowl when milling the hard cheese or you will get a sticky mess that is harder to work with.) If adding chopped olives, add these at the cheese stage.
One more note about salt: most cheeses and olives (if using) contain a lot of salt, so it's not usually necessary to include salt in this recipe but you may feel otherwise. Consider adding salt at table instead of in the recipe itself.
We all want more Thermomix inspiration! Tell us what you do with polenta!