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Soft Polenta with Thyme

Polenta is available at specialty food shops and at healthy food stores, where it is often labeled coarsely ground cornmeal. Don't try to make polenta with medium-grind or finely ground cornmeal; you'll be disappointed. Brigit Legere Binns' favorite brands of imported polenta are Beretta and Molino e Frantoio from Italy and Croix de Savoie from France.

slideshow Delicious, Quick Side Dishes

  • Servings: 6

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  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 1/2 cups chicken stock or canned low-sodium broth
  • Coarse sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cups polenta or coarsely ground cornmeal
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 1/2 ounces)
  • Freshly ground pepper


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy saucepan. Add the onion and garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 6 minutes.
  2. Add the chicken stock, 1 1/2 cups of water and 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt and bring to a simmer over moderately high heat. Whisk in the polenta in a slow, thin stream, whisking constantly so that no lumps form. Cook, stirring frequently in the same direction with a flat wooden paddle until the polenta is fairly thick, 25 to 30 minutes. Stir in the butter, thyme and Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper and remove from the heat. Serve hot.

Make Ahead

The polenta can be covered and kept warm for up to 4 hours in a metal bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir it occasionally, and if it becomes too thick, stir in a few tablespoons of boiling water.

Published February 1996

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