Rick Shory

Offering a little something you might not otherwise have

Leave a comment

Recipe: non-hazardous polenta

Cook polenta (a.k.a. corn meal mush) in the microwave. Use your usual proportions of 1 part cornmeal to 3 or 4 parts water, or whatever you please. Put the water and cornmeal in a microwave-safe cooking vessel, like a Pyrex bowl, or whatever such thing you have. Add a little salt and butter if you like. Cook it on high till it starts to thicken. Then stop, stir it up, and cook some more. Repeat till done.

If I did like usual online recipes, I’d waste a lot of your time telling you my entire family and cultural history before getting to the point. The point is, when you cook polenta stovetop, it spits and spatters hot blobs of boiling cornmeal. You have to be there stirring, or the bottom burns. No matter how you time it, how you stir it, you have to be almost wearing a suit of armor not to risk scalding.

I like polenta. For years I put up with its vicious ways. I found, if I brought two cups of water to a full boil in a flat vessel like a frying pan, then quickly added one cup of cornmeal, which had been mixed with a little cold water, and then I scraped and stirred the mess vigorously all the way to the bottom, it got past the really bad spattering stage fairly quick. Thus, I avoided the worst of it. But I was never sure one day one of those boiling spits wouldn’t put out my eye.

Then, one day, for some reason, I tried making it in the microwave instead. Since polenta is so spattery when cooked stovetop, I thought it might explode. But it did no such thing. It did not spatter at all. Not at all. It just thickened up very nicely, and was perfect.

After it’s done, you can do any of the polenta variants you want: Mix in basil, or pepper, or cheese. Let it cool to solidify, then slice and fry it. Any, and all the same. But the initial stage, getting the polenta cooked in the first place, you can now do without the shower of miniature incendiary bombs all over your stove, and yourself.