There are almost as many ways to make polenta as there are ways to make beans. The wonderful chef Judy Rogers included a tasty recipe in The Zuni Café Cookbook, W.W. Norton and Company, 2002. Here is my recipe for polenta. I find this the easiest way to make polenta because it doesn’t require an inordinate amount of stirring. You will need a large saucepan and a double-boiler with at least a six cup capacity.


  • 1 cup polenta (coarsely ground cornmeal)
  • 5 cups water
  • 3 teas. salt
  • 1 tbsp. minced sage


Bring the water almost to a boil in a large saucepan. Slowly stir in the polenta, whisking all the while until all the polenta is absorbed. Turn down the heat, switch to a wooden spoon and keep stirring until the polenta starts to thicken. Keep the heat low and keep stirring until the polenta is thick. This will take about 10-15 minutes. Be careful to keep the heat low enough as the polenta “spits” and can burn you.

Set up a large double-boiler on another burner on medium heat and bring to a boil. Once the water starts boiling, turn down the heat and keep the water at a simmer.

Once the polenta is thick, add 3 teaspoonsful of salt and 1 tbsp. of minced sage and stir to combine. Turn out the polenta into the top part of the double-boiler and cover. Let the polenta simmer for at least one hour. After about 30 minutes check to see if it needs a little more water. If so, add and stir to combine. Taste for salt.

This recipe makes about 4-1/2 cups which can be 4 to 8 servings depending upon how you are using it.

Once the polenta is cooked you can keep it hot and serve it soft in bowls. You can use some soft polenta right away and put the rest in a loaf pan. As it cools it will stiffen and you can slice it and crisp it in a pan for serving. You can top it with beans and/or vegetables or pesto or tomato or romesco sauce. Some folks like to have their polenta fried extra crispy and served with maple syrup. The possibilities are almost endless.

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