Lustrous Cheesy Polenta is Euphoria on a Spoon
Cheesy polenta is such a fast, cheap and filling meal that it’s a shame I’ve only just discovered its potential. The way the cornmeal swells with milk and butter, bearing the strings of melted cheese like a silken palanquin on its back—it’s enough to make my heart sing.
All you need is a medium-ground cornmeal, a melting cheese, and perhaps some sautéed vegetables or meats to top for a quick and gratifying meal to enjoy all the time.
Any melting cheese will work here, but I used Brianna, a sexy little raw-milk siren from farmstead producer Jacobs & Brichford in Indiana. She’s kind of like an Italian fontina, rich and creamy with a smooth herbaceous body and a subtle sweetness that goes so well with thyme and buttery polenta.
I topped my polenta with sliced crimini mushrooms sautéed in butter with garlic, a handful of chopped parsley and a squirt of lemon. Any seasonal vegetables are lovely on a bed of warm polenta—I’m thinking ramps and morels at the moment. I highly recommend the addition of a poached egg as well.
Easy Cheesy Polenta
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2-3 cups water
- 1 cup polenta or cornmeal (medium-ground)
- 1.5 tablespoons grass-fed butter
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1.5 cups melting cheese, shredded
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Sautéed vegetables, fresh herbs, and/or meat to serve
- Medium sauce pan
- In a medium saucepan, bring milk, 2 cups of the water, and a big pinch of salt to a boil. Immediately reduce to a simmer, to prevent the milk from scorching. Slowly add the cornmeal, whisking vigorously to prevent lumps.
- Keep mixture at a gentle simmer and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the mixture becomes overly thick, add a half cup of water. Repeat as needed. I had to add water twice.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and olive oil. Sprinkle the shredded cheese over the polenta and stir until thoroughly combined. Season with Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Enjoy!