Test Kitchen tips: Easy polenta

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Who knew there was an easy way to make polenta? One that didn’t skimp on that wonderful flavor? According to Times Food editor Russ Parsons, ‘You can make a really good polenta with no more effort than it would take to bake a boxed cake.’ The trick? Bake it. He writes:

I went for years trying different kinds of shortcuts for making polenta and rejecting every one. Most sacrifice flavor for ease. I’ve tried at least a half-dozen of them -- in a covered pan, in a double boiler, even in the microwave. Some cooks who should know better have even suggested that you can simply shorten the cooking time. I’ve tried that too, but even the best of these shortcuts didn’t come close to the deep, toasted corn flavor of a true long-stirred polenta.As a result, my family and I ate polenta only on those rare occasions when my ambition matched my mood -- in other words, only a couple of times a year.But now I serve polenta any time I feel like it. And these days I’m feeling like it a lot. Here’s how easy preparing polenta can be: Pour water into a wide, deep pot; stir in polenta; bake; stir; bake; stir; done.


And yes, it works! No more laboring over a hot stove -- that is, unless you want to. Check out the story and experiment a little; it makes a great weekend -- or weeknight -- project. No worries, recipes are included:

If you have any kitchen tips or questions you’d like me to explore, leave a comment below or shoot me an email at


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-- Noelle Carter

Photos credit: Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times