Sometimes, all it takes is a nudge from a friend to get me into the kitchen and experimenting away. My friend Emma wanted to make polenta in her Instant Pot, and the recipes on the internets were less than inspiring. Challenge accepted!
Amazingly enough, it only took one try to get a very good result. I brought some chicken broth and butter up to a simmer on the “Sauté” setting, whisked in the polenta, then used the “Porridge” setting to cook the polenta. This was so much easier and hands-off than making polenta on the stove, which requires a lot of attentive stirring. Stovetop polenta also tends to burble up in threatening, molten-hot bubbles, which was nice to avoid!
Once the polenta finished cooking, it was creamy and smooth. You could certainly serve it this way, ladled straight out of the Instant Pot. Or for a creamier, more decadent porridge, try stirring in a dollop of mascarpone and some Parmesan cheese. I was in the mood for crispy squares, though, so I spooned the polenta out onto a Silpat (a.k.a. a nonstick silicone baking mat), let it cool for about ten minutes. then cut it into squares with a bench scraper.
To get a nice crispy crust on the polenta, I sautéed the squares in olive oil for about five minutes a side. It’s easy to tell when they’re done, as they turn a delicate golden brown.
Crisped polenta squares are a great starchy side. You can serve them simply straight from the skillet, or covered in marinara sauce and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese. Enjoy!
Instant Pot Polenta
- 1 quart low sodium chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
- 1 cup polenta not an instant or quick-cooking variety
- 1/2 teaspoon salt or up to 1 teaspoon if your chicken broth is completely unsalted
- more olive oil for frying optional
- Press the "Sauté" button on the Instant Pot. Add the chicken broth, butter, and salt to the pot. Bring it up to a simmer.
- When the broth begins to simmer, pour the polenta into the broth in a thin stream, whisking constantly to keep it from getting lumpy.
- Put the pressure cooker lid on the Instant Pot, and set the valve to "Sealing."
- Press the "Keep Warm/Cancel" button to reset the Instant Pot. Then, press the "Porridge" button and adjust the time with the "-" button, down to 8 minutes.
- When the Instant Pot beeps to signal the end of cooking, leave it on the "Keep Warm" setting for another 15 minutes.
- After 15 minutes have passed, carefully turn the pressure valve to "Venting." When the pressure has fully released, open the Instant Pot and remove the inner pot. Stir with a wooden spoon to unstick any polenta that may be clinging to the bottom of the pot. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt if necessary.
- Serve the polenta as a porridge, or spread it out in a 1/2-inch layer on a Silpat, let it cool to room temperature, then slice it into squares and fry in olive oil until golden brown, about five minutes a side.
Make Ahead Tip: Once you've cut the polenta into squares, they can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two days before frying. Put them in a tightly-lidded tupperware, with sheets of wax paper between layers of polenta squares to keep them from sticking.