I bet you have heard of cornmeal mush before, haven’t you? There’s nothing mushy about this traditional Bosnian polenta, although the flavor is the same. You either love it or hate it and I happened to love it. Except when I was little and mom served it with milk poured over. No, thank you. I always detested milk. I prefer buttermilk.
This simple meal is best if you share it with someone who appreciates it as much as you do because it is so much more fun to “ahh” and “mmm” about it in a tandem. My daughter Andrea and I make it a feast, a special bonding time, and we can barely move after we’re done: polenta topped with feta cheese, sauerkraut, browned bacon and bacon drippings, and then we finish it off with buttermilk. Mmm…It’s almost like a dessert.
I’m not crazy, don’t make funny faces! Give it a try. You don’t have to be Bosnian to acquire the taste for polenta. Ask Ava, my almost-three-year-old granddaughter. She loves it just as much as mommy and grandma 🙂
Polenta is so versatile. Serve with maple syrup alongside eggs for breakfast, or – if you like milk – try with milk, cinnamon, apples, and pecans. I have made polenta as a side dish to accompany stews, even casseroles like Slavonian sneaky casserole. Or, cook it and pour it into a loaf pan, then refrigerate until solid. Cut into thin slices and fry the pieces until golden brown on both sides. YUM!
Another favorite, stand-alone, polenta version is this one with caramelized onions and peppers. Ahhh…
Traditional Bosnian Polenta
- 1 cup Yellow Cornmeal
- 3 cups Water
- 1 teaspoon Sugar
- 1 medium Onion, chopped or sliced
- 1-2 Bell Peppers (any color), chopped or sliced
- 1 tablespoons Oil
- 3 tablespoon Butter
- 1/2 cup Feta Cheese
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Mix polenta, water, 1 teaspoon salt and oil in a medium size pan. Bring to a light boil over medium-low heat, whisking occasionally. When polenta starts to bubble, lower the heat to low and whisk frequently, keeping the cornmeal from lumping up and sticking to the bottom of your pan, until desired consistency is reached, about 10 minutes. You want to be able to lift it with the fork, so it should be pretty thick.
- Meanwhile, heat the butter in a large skillet. Add onions and peppers and sauté over medium heat until vegetables softened about 5-10 minutes. Add salt, pepper, and sugar and cook 5 more minutes.
- Scoop the caramelized vegetables over polenta and sprinkle with crumbled feta.
Polenta with Caramelized Onions and Peppers
- Non-stick saucepan
- 1 cup yellow cornmeal
- 3 cups of water
- 3 tablespoons oil divided
- 2 teaspoons salt divided
- 1 medium onion sliced
- 1-2 bell peppers any color, sliced
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- To garnish: chopped fresh parsley optional
- Mix cornmeal, 3 cups water, 1 tsp salt, and 1 tbsp oil in a medium-size saucepan. Bring to a light boil over medium-low heat, whisking occasionally. When polenta starts to bubble, lower the temperature to low and constantly whisk, keeping the cornmeal from lumping up and sticking to the bottom of your pan, until desired consistency is reached, about 10-20 minutes. You want to be able to lift it with the fork, so it should be pretty thick.
- Meanwhile, heat 2 tbsp of oil in a large skillet. Add sliced onion and bell pepper(s) and sauté over medium heat until vegetables are softened, about 5-10 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon of each salt, pepper, and sugar and cook 5 more minutes.
- To serve, scoop the caramelized vegetables over polenta and sprinkle with parsley if desired.
- The instructions on the cornmeal package suggest a 1:4 ratio - one part cornmeal to 4 parts water. However, I find that a 1:3 ratio is just the right amount for me. I don't like my polenta too mushy.
- The cooking time may vary depending on the variety of the cornmeal. The correct cooking times are noted on the package instructions or do as I do - cook until it's done. 🙂
- An essential part for perfect polenta: constantly whisk so that it does not burn. Don't use a wooden spoon; a whisk will break up clumps and make polenta that is creamier throughout.
- A constant slow cooking and steady low heat is the key to bring out the blended consistency and taste.
- Not a fan of big chunks of sliced onions and peppers? Chop them as small as you wish instead.
- Substitute oil with butter.
- Serve it with a side of fresh salad. Top with sour cream or buttermilk or add feta cheese.
- For the best results, read additional tips in the post above.
- Nutrition information is approximate and meant as a guideline only.