Creamy Polenta in a Crock Pot or Slow Cooker

Preparing polenta in a slow cooker is a revelation. It turns out perfectly with very little effort. If you happen to be serving breakfast to a crowd, you can prepare it overnight and have it ready first thing in the morning.

This is my most requested recipe, in part because it is so very easy and in part because it is also quite delicious. It is also very forgiving and will last for many hours in a slow cooker set on low or warm. All it needs is a quick stir every now and then. It is also easy to double or triple or more. For a large crowd, figure one 4-quart slow cooker for every 25 to 30 people. I used 7 slow cookers to feed 200 people at a recent benefit.

  • Makes 12 to 30 servings

Ingredients

  • 12 cups boiling water
  • 3 cups (about 1 pound) coarse-ground polenta
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, preferably organic
  • 12 ounces grated cheese, such as Dry Jack, Estero Gold, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Vella Dry Jack <> or similar cheese
  • Black pepper in a mill

Directions

  1. Pour the boiling water into a slow cooker and set the control to high. Pour in the polenta, whisking to encourage the grains to separate. Add the salt and cover with the lid.

  2. Give the polenta a quick stir every 15 minutes or so until it begins to thicken, which will take about an hour. Reduce the heat to low and cook for about 4 hours, stirring now and then when you think of it. When the polenta is tender and creamy, reset the heat to warm and hold for up to 10 hours, stirring now and then. If at any point the polenta seems too thick, thin it with a little water.

  3. To serve, reset the heat to low, stir in the butter and cheese, correct for salt and season with several turns of black pepper.

  • Noreen

    I’ve had this cooked by Michele herself and it is delicious! Can’t wait to try it on my family for Christmas Eve.

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