This mascarpone polenta is rich and nourishing with subtle notes of sweet corn, creamy mascarpone cheese, and hints of black pepper. It's delicious enough to serve for date night yet simple enough to enjoy when you're craving comfort food after a long day at work.
Course Side Dish
Keyword creamy polenta, easy side dishes, italian cooking, mascarpone, polenta, vegetarian recipes
3 to 3 1/2cupswater, chicken stock, or vegetable stock
1 1/2cupsmilkfor a lighter polenta replace the milk with water
1teaspoonkosher saltplus more as needed
1/2cupfinely grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
Set a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 °F or 177 °C.
In a heavy oven-safe dutch oven, combine cornmeal, 3 cups of water*, milk, salt, and a generous pinch of black pepper in a pot. Whisk for a few seconds until cornmeal is incorporated into the liquids. Top with 1 tablespoon butter.* For an even softer, looser polenta, use the full 3 1/2 cups of water.
Place the pot in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, covered.
Carefully remove the cover and stir the polenta with a wooden spoon.
Bake the polenta, covered, for an additional 15 minutes, then check for doneness. When done, the polenta should have absorbed all of the water and have a creamy consistency. The grains should feel tender without being gritty.If the polenta still tastes gritty and/or not all of the water has been absorbed, continue baking until cooked through, checking every 5 to 10 minutes. It may take an additional 30 minutes, depending on the type of polenta you have. If the polenta is cooked through but feels too thick, you can thin it out with water to your desired consistency.
Once the polenta is cooked through, remove from the oven. Immediately whisk in the mascarpone, parmigiano-reggiano cheese, and remaining tablespoon of butter. Stir until the mascarpone is fully melted.
Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.
Polenta is typically made with water, milk, or stock, and you can choose what combination you’d like depending on your mood. If you’re looking for something lighter (and to be fair, polenta is already pretty rich, so lighter is definitely relative!) with a stronger corn flavor, go with all water. Want a lighter polenta with a meaty or vegetal flavor? Use stock. Want a richer polenta? Use a half and half mix of water and milk.Make sure to coveryour dutch oven while it's baking. This prevents a skin from forming on top of the polenta!Cooking polenta is a bit of an art and science. Stick to the ratios in the recipe, but use your intuition - if it feels too thick, add more liquid. Too thin? Keep cooking it until the liquid evaporates.Serve the polenta immediately. As soon as it starts cooling down, it begins to thicken.