Cooking polenta on the grill adds another dimension, giving it a wonderful crispy exterior while the interior remains creamy and buttery interior — the contrast is what makes it so heavenly.
Speaking of contrast, the ease of making grilled polenta also contrasts with... well, other things that are harder to make. The point is, it's easy.
There are a couple of ways you can do it: You can make up a batch of creamy polenta and let it set in a loaf pan, then slice it up and grill the slices. Or you could spread your cooked polenta onto a sheet pan and then cut it up and grill.
Doing it on a sheet pan is a bit quicker since it takes less time to cool when it's spread out. And it also lets you cut your polenta into rounds, triangles, or whatever shapes your heart desires.
You can grill your polenta in a cast-iron grill pan, or on a gas grill, either one of which will give it those characteristic grill marks. But I should also point out that you can also grill it on an ordinary cast-iron skillet, which I actually prefer, since it produces a uniform golden brown crust on the polenta slices. And golden brown of course means yummy.
Grilling is also a nice way to use leftover polenta. Probably the best way to do it is to lightly oil your pan, press the polenta into the pan with a spatula, and then bring it up to heat. As the polenta softens, you can press it down further. The more of it that is in contact with the surface of the pan, the more crispy and golden-brown it will become.
- 4 cups cooked polenta
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Prepare one batch of creamy polenta.
- Pour warm polenta into a glass loaf pan. Smooth the top, cover and refrigerate until set, a few hours or up to overnight. Or spread it onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. About half an inch in thickness is about right.
- Turn the polenta onto a cutting board. It should be completely molded into the shape of your loaf pan. Cut into ½-inch slices and brush each one with olive oil on both sides.
- Heat a grill pan until it is quite hot. If using a gas grill, which is likely to get much hotter than a grill pan, a medium-high setting should be enough.
- Place each slice diagonally across the grill and let it cook for about 10 minutes or until dark-brown grill marks appear. Don't move the polenta around, though, or you'll disturb the browning process. Also, don't overcrowd the pan. Work in batches if necessary.
- Flip and grill the other side until grill marks appear, about another 10 minutes. Serve hot.