Cleamy Porenta (or Cheesy Grits, depending…)

Posted on Nov 20, 2011

Creamy Polenta with a nutty parmesan and Italian parsley

Download PDF “Cleamy Porenta”? Oh, I know… that’s racist! But you try living with Orville Mendoza (yes, my husband is a decidedly UN-PC Asian) and not having his zany humor rub off, so give me a break!

This is a Southern basic. Or is it Italian? No matter, this creamy, buttery, cheesy goodness goes with just about everything~they’re an integral part of my Spicy Shrimp & Grits, or try them with my Cider & Lager Spare Ribs, or instead of pasta with a hearty bolognese sauce!

Experiment with the flavors you add–they take on almost any herb or spice beautifully. Try stirring in garlic or fresh herbs for a flavorful base for another dish, or for spooning them up on their own.


The classic proportion for grits is four parts liquid to one part grits, but 5-to-1 gives these an especially creamy texture that I think is just luxurious. Try it this way~I think you’ll agree they’re pretty special.

Cleamy Porenta (or Cheesy Grits, depending…)

Prep Time: 5 minutes | Cook Time: 35 minutes | Servings: 6 servings | Difficulty: Easy


1 cup coarse ground corn meal – I like Bob’s Red Mill brand for this
5 cups water
2 tbsp unsalted butter, plus more to “garnish,” if Paula Deen is comin’ for dinner
1 tsp salt
pinch baking soda
Freshly ground pepper
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (for a Southern-style Cheesy Grits
1 1/2 cups shredded parmesan cheese  (for an Italian-style Creamy Polenta)


Bring the water to a boil and add 1 tsp salt and a pinch of baking soda (this helps break down the hard corn exterior so you don’t have to stir constantly for a half an hour!) Stir for one minute with whisk until it comes to a boil. Put on the lid, and lower heat to lowest possible simmer.

Cheese is the key for Cheesy Grits!

Cook for five minutes undisturbed, then stir again. Replace lid and continue on a bare simmer for 25 minutes.

Check it after ten minutes to make sure it’s not sputtering and splattering. If it is, lower the flame further. If your stove doesn’t get low enough to keep it from sputtering, try stacking two of your burner grates to put the pan further from the flame – it works like a charm on my crappy-ass NY rent controlled stove.

Stir in the butter and whichever cheese you’re using. Replace lid and let sit for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.