Polenta is a classic Italian dish made with boiled cornmeal. (Like Italy’s take on Southern grits.) It can be eaten as a hot porridge that’s served beneath rich stews or roasted meats, or shaped into circles or squares to make a side dish. It’s the squares we’re after here—they’re perfetto when tossed on the grill to serve with anything barbecued.
How to Make Grilled Polenta
- 1 tablespoon chopped shallot
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh basil or 2 teaspoons dried basil
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 cup white wine or chicken broth
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 1/3 cup chopped seeded tomatoes
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup cornmeal
Step 1: Start simmering
In a large heavy saucepan, saute shallot in oil until tender. Add the basil, garlic and oregano; cook 1 minute longer. Stir in wine. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes.
Step 2: Boil away
Add the broth, tomatoes and salt; bring to a boil. Reduce to heat to a gentle boil; slowly whisk in cornmeal. Cook and stir with a wooden spoon for 15-20 minutes or until polenta is thickened and pulls away cleanly from the side of the pan.
Step 3: Cool down
Spread into a 9-in. square baking pan coated with cooking spray. Cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. You can either store the cooked polenta in your refrigerator, or grill it right away.
Step 4: Fire up the grill
Cut polenta into nine squares. Grill, covered, over medium heat for 5-7 minutes on each side or until crisp and golden brown. Serve with barbecued ribs or chicken, steak or anything else that’s rich and savory.
How to Store Cooked Polenta
You can make a big batch for the week ahead. Store cooked polenta in an air-tight container for up to three days in your neatly organized refrigerator. This is perfect if you want to grill up another round later in the week, but won’t have the prep time to cook another batch. Don’t forget the secret sauce!