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Reheating Soft Polenta

By Cook's Illustrated Published January 2015

Reheating leftover polenta typically yields disappointing results. This tip makes reviving leftover polenta a viable option.

Soft polenta is a perfect match for our Tuscan-Style Beef Stew (see related content). If you have leftovers, reheating the stew is easy enough, but what about the polenta? Not so easy. Soft polenta gels and turns firm in the refrigerator, and simply reheating it won’t return its soft, scoopable texture. Cutting the leftovers into squares and frying them is always an option, but we wondered if we could find a way to make the polenta creamy again.

First we tried blending the polenta, cut into small cubes, with hot milk in a blender, but the violent action released a lot of starch, making the mixture gluey. Using the paddle attachment in a stand mixer released far less starch, but it left lumps. Here’s the best approach. We pushed the cubes through a potato ricer, added a small amount of liquid, and reheated the mixture over a low flame or in the microwave (time will vary depending on volume, but typically it will take no longer than 5 minutes). The polenta won’t return to its original smoothness, but it will come close.

1. Cut polenta into 2-inch cubes, then push through fine plate of potato ricer.

2. Stir in 1/4 to 1/2 cup milk, water, or broth per 1 cup polenta to reach desired consistency.

3. Reheat polenta over low flame or in microwave, stirring periodically, until warmed through.