How To Prep Polenta So That It Doesn't Fall Apart On The Grill

Polenta is one of those dishes from humble origins but can make an exquisite side dish or base for a main course. According to Food Network, polenta's roots date back to being served as a porridge amongst farmers in Northern Italy. Today, however, you're more likely to find this cornmeal-based dish smothered in succulent meats like braised beef cheek or this red wine braised short rib recipe. If you're keener on pairing vegetables with polenta, you can cover it in sauteed cherry tomatoes or an elegant eggplant ragout.

While polenta can be served in a softer form reminiscent of grits, one of the more appealing presentations is to slice it into squares, almost like a lemon bar,  and serve your meat or veg on top of it. If you like that aesthetic, you might really enjoy grilling those squares of polenta, but beware, there are a couple of extra steps you need to take before your polenta can hit the grill.

Let it set

While you can often buy pre-cooked polenta that's set in a cylinder shape, ready to slice and sear, making it from scratch requires a little bit of extra TLC. First, you'll need to combine the polenta with your liquid and mix it, per the instructions of your favorite polenta recipe. After that, Food Network recommends that you spread the polenta in a spring-form baking pan and let it set for a minimum of two hours. They also note you can do this the day before and refrigerate it. 

Once you're ready to grill it, be sure to incorporate some fat so the polenta won't stick to the grill. It's recommended that you oil the grill and brush some fresh oil on both sides of the polenta squares; this will ensure gorgeous grill marks and the polenta remain intact. A New York Times article notes that you can also sear polenta on an electric griddle or in a pan, which is a good option if you cannot grill it outside. Top your polenta squares with any dish you fancy and dig right in.