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Faking it! Perfect polenta! Some of my Italian friends (not all) can be extremely disparaging about the ability of Australians to cook. For years one of my best Italian friends a picky little Genovese, nicknamed Stefano “pesto” mocked most of my attempts at Italian cooking especially my polenta. He would nudge the rigid lump around his plate, shaking his head and laughing, refusing to let it pass his lips.

oven baked white polenta
Serves 6 — double batch microwave times in brackets
Best made just before your guests are due to arrive

melted butter or EV olive oil for greasing the dish and top of the polenta
1000g Paris Creek whole milk, or similar full cream quality biodynamic milk
500g water
250g white polenta
15g salt
125g unsalted butter, cut into cubes or 125g EV olive oil or a combination of both
freshly ground black pepper (optional)

Method
Carefully brush a 2.5L ovenproof dish; the texture is better when it is deeper rather than wide. We are lucky that our Kenwood bowls are microwave safe meaning we can go from microwave to machine in a single action, which is very handy. If you have to swap from a microwave bowl you’ll probably need to add another 30 seconds to the cooking time to allow for the delay. All stages of the cooking process must be done without delay or the recipe does not work properly.
Put the milk and water into a large microwave bowl and heat on high for 15 (25) minutes (it must be boiling). Using a hand whisk stir in the polenta and stir until it slightly thickens, stir through the salt and return to the microwave for 7 (12) minutes on medium high — see tips.
If you are not using your mixer bowl immediately return it to your mixer bowl and starting at slow speed because the bottom will be firmer than the top whisk the polenta until it is evenly thick. If you are using oil, whisk it in slowly and then whisk at high speed until very fluffy. If you are using butter, push the cubes under the polenta, let it stand for a couple of minutes and then whisk until very fluffy.
Scrape into the prepared dish and allow to stand on a rack until a skin firms on the top, then brush generously with melted butter or EV olive oil.

Pre heat oven to 220°C
Bake for 35–40 minutes until the top is golden and the polenta hot when a knife is inserted in the middle.

tips

  • For the style of white polenta that is more like mash potato in texture (not the thinner pomme puree) after adding the butter/oil and whisking return it to the microwave for a further 3/4 minutes, whisk again until thick and fluffy and serve. The disadvantage is that it must be done right at the last minute to achieve the best results, great for the family but a bit of a nuisance when entertaining. The recipe will work with normal polenta and we like to use 125g fine and 125g coarse polenta and sometimes, depending on the richness of the accompaniments we reverse the quantities of milk and water.
  • White polenta can be purchased from Bottega Rotolo, 7 Osmond terrace, Norwood, Lucia’s Fine Foods Adelaide Central Markets
  • The polenta is gorgeous with any wet/casserole style of winter dish like osso bucco, we’ve been doing braised goat with our own green olives. We buy our goat from Rainbow Halal on South Road, but have noticed that Feast at the Market and Wild Oz, also at the Adelaide Central Markets have beautiful young goat.

  • left overs
  • Cut into portions, brush with oil or butter, bake in the oven until golden and try a simple mushroom ragu with a variety of inexpensive mushrooms enhanced with a few of the exotic European mushrooms available now. Make the ragu fairly wet because the polenta will be firmer when baked a second time.
  • Butter or oil a shallow ovenproof dish. Slice the left over polenta about 5mm thick and cover the bottom of the dish, then alternate with roasted (cooked) vegetables finishing with a layer of polenta. Brush the top with butter and generously sprinkle with grated parmesan pecorino cheese. Bake in a hot oven.



the people behind Galaxy Guidesfood editor and publisher
Ann Oliver
food-editor@galaxyguides.com

champagne editor
Kaaren Palmer
kaaren.palmer@galaxyguides.com

Contibutors

Jan Bowman
Political comentator, briliant photographer…farmers’s market obsessed…Brisbane based.

Olivia Stratton Makris
Masters of Gastronomy, NYC, Spain and constant assistance and editorial suggestion…Adelaide based.

Michael Martin…Northern America 2016.Photographic assistance Kym Martin…Adelaide based.

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copyright © text, recipes and images Ann Oliver & Kaaren Palmer 2016.