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Milk Street Recipe
Milk Street Bowtie Soft Polenta

Soft Polenta

1¾ hours 10 minutes active

Soft Polenta


For the best flavor and texture, use coarse stoneground cornmeal; fine cornmeal produced pasty, gluey polenta, while steel-ground cornmeal has less flavor. We liked Bob's Red Mill Organic Polenta Corn Grits (cornmeal), but found that different brands can cook up with slightly different consistencies. The finished polenta should be pourable; if it's too thick, thin with water as needed. This polenta is not enriched with butter or cheese, which allows the sweetness of the corn to be front and center. It's a perfect side to most braises, such as Tuscan Beef and Black Pepper Stew. It also can be paired with a flavorful sauce, such as Spicy Tomato Sauce with Garlic and Anchovies.

2 cups coarse stoneground yellow cornmeal (see note)
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 2

    cups coarse stoneground yellow cornmeal (see note)

  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper



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Soft Polenta

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1¾ hours

10 minutes active


Don't use white cornmeal. Its flavor is milder and than yellow cornmeal. In Italy, it is used mostly for sweet preparations. And don't skip the whisk for stirring the polenta as it cooks; its wires are more effective than a wooden spoon for breaking up lumps.

  • 2

    cups coarse stoneground yellow cornmeal (see note)

  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

Step 1 of 3

Simmer, then bake the cornmeal

cups coarse stoneground yellow cornmeal
tablespoon kosher salt

Heat the oven to 375°F with a rack in the lower-middle position. In a large Dutch oven, whisk together the cornmeal, 1 tablespoon salt and 11 cups water. Bring to a gentle simmer over medium-high, stirring frequently to prevent clumping. Transfer the pot, uncovered, to the oven and bake for 1 hour.

Step 2 of 3

Thicken the cornmeal in the oven

Remove the pot from the oven. Carefully whisk until smooth and use a wooden spoon to scrape along the bottom and into corners of the pot.

Return, uncovered, to the oven and cook until the cornmeal is thick and creamy and the granules are tender, another 10 to 30 minutes, depending on the cornmeal used.

Step 3 of 3

Whisk the polenta

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

Remove the pot from the oven. Vigorously whisk the polenta until smooth and use the wooden spoon to scrape the bottom, sides and corners of the pot. Let stand for 5 minutes. The polenta should thicken just enough for a spoon to leave a brief trail when dragged through; whisk in additional water if needed to adjust the consistency. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

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Soft Polenta

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