A staple of Northern Italy, polenta is often underrated. Both the creamy and the fried versions are favorites at my house, where even the most meat-reliant among us love it served with a simple marinara sauce and paired with a side vegetable or green salad. Personally, I can eat it for breakfast, lunch or dinner. When the crispy crust gives way to a creamy interior, it’s bliss.

Polenta, traditionally made with coarse stone-ground cornmeal, isn’t hard to master. Can you mess it up? Sure, but only if you refuse guidance and can’t commit to a few minutes of leisurely stirring.

Here are two ways to fry polenta.

What you’ll need:

  • large saucepan
  • large whisk
  • 9-by-13-inch lipped baking pan or, for thicker slices, an 8-inch square baking pan
  • parchment paper

Shannon Weber is the creator, author and photographer behind the award-winning blogaperiodictableblog.com, and her work has appeared on websites such as Bon Appétit, Serious Eats and America’s Test Kitchen.