Updated February 23, 2016

Soft polenta topped with cheese sauce is a dish that hails from northern Italy, where polenta is often favored over pasta. Good with steamed green beans and carrots.

Cooking over hot water:

When cooking with a bowl over a pan of simmering water, make sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. This ensures very gentle cooking without direct heat, which is ideal for melting chocolate, cooking egg sauces, and (as in this case) melting cheese without over-cooking it. Over-cooking the cheese would toughen it and prevent it combining with the other ingredients to form a smooth sauce.

4 servings

Preparation Time5 min

Preparation Time - Text5 minutes

Cooking Time25 min

Cooking Time - Text25



Total Timeunder 30 minutes

OccasionCasual Dinner Party

Recipe Coursehot appetizer, side dish

Dietary Considerationpeanut free, soy free, tree nut free, vegetarian

Mealdinner, lunch


Taste and Texturebuttery, cheesy, creamy


  • 1½ cups polenta or yellow cornmeal
  • Salt
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1½ cups shredded Italian fontina cheese
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • Pinch ground white pepper
  • 8 button mushrooms, thinly sliced


Bring 1 quart (1 liter) water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. In a bowl, whisk the polenta and 1 cup water until smooth. Whisk the polenta mixture into the boiling water. Reduce the heat to medium. Cook, stirring constantly, about 5 minutes, or until thickened. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook 20 minutes, until soft. Season lightly with salt.

Meanwhile, place a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water. Add the butter and let it melt. Add the cheese and milk and cook, stirring often, until the cheese melts. Beat in the egg yolks and cook until the cheese sauce is lightly thickened. Season with pepper.

Divide the polenta among 4 bowls, and make an indentation with a spoon in the center of each. Top each with the cheese sauce, then the raw sliced mushrooms. Serve hot.



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