Let's Cook with Meg and Ted

Creamy oven polenta

I occasionally feel like having polenta on a winter's night, but can rarely be bothered stirring it constantly for an hour on the stove top. This version is just as good - seems impossible, but true. It requires stirring twice over the course of 50 minutes, and if you are truly lazy you can leave out the onion and just sit back and drink wine for an hour while it cooks. It's very slightly adapted from a recipe on Anna Thomas' brilliant website, The Vegetarian Epicure.

2 cupscoarse or medium grind polenta (not the instant stuff, obviously)
7 cupslight vegetable stock
1 tablespoonolive oil
1 tablespoonbutter
2onions, chopped
sea salt and black pepper to taste
fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
fresh marjoram, finely chopped
fresh thyme, finely chopped
1/3 cupcream
150 gparmesan, aged pecorino, or other strong cheese, grated

Mix the polenta and the stock together in a shallow casserole dish, stirring to break up any dry lumps. Bake at 180C for about 40 minutes, then remove from the oven and stir up. It should be soft but fairly thick.

While the polenta is cooking, heat the olive oil and butter in a pan and cook the onion over medium heat, stirring often, until it is soft and golden brown. When the polenta comes out of the oven, add the onion and stir through, along with the herbs, cream and cheese.

Return the polenta to the oven for about 10 minutes, then give one more stir. Adjust the seasoning if necessary, then ladle into bowls or plates. Serve with any vegetable (or meat, I suppose) topping which has a little sauce to soak into the polenta. I like grilled flat mushrooms, or mushroom ragout, but it is also good with roasted vegetables, or with roast cherry tomatoes, rocket and blue cheese. Anna Thomas also suggests serving with a tomato sauce, some addtional chopped parsley and some shavings of cheese, which sounds good.

Serves 6.

28 October 2003

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