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Polenta with Herbed Oil

Polenta with Herbed Oil excerpted from Cured by Steve McHugh & Paula Forbes.This polenta takes its inspiration from spaghetti night, specifically everyone’s favorite accompaniment: good old-fashioned garlic bread. Herbs are steeped in a combination of butter and olive oil, along with garlic and red pepper flakes, to infuse the polenta with tons of flavor.

Polenta with Herbed Oil excerpted from Cured by Steve McHugh & Paula Forbes.

Polenta with Herbed Oil

Steve McHugh & Paula Forbes
Course Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6 servings


  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1-1/2 cups yellow polenta (or coarse-ground cornmeal) 
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter 
  • 6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons dried herbs, such as oregano, basil, thyme, marjoram, rosemary, or a combination 
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes


  • Combine 6 cups water and 1 teaspoon of the salt in a heavy-bottomed pot and bring to a boil. Slowly whisk in the polenta. Cook, stirring, until slightly thickened, 1 to 2 minutes, then reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook, stirring periodically to prevent from sticking to the bottom of the pan, until the polenta is tender and thoroughly cooked, 45 minutes to 1 hour. (If the mixture becomes too thick during cooking, add 1⁄2 cup water or so to thin it.)
  • Meanwhile, heat the oil and butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until the butter is melted. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add the herbs and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes more. Add the red pepper flakes and remaining 1 teaspoon salt, stir for about 15 more seconds, then remove from the heat.
  • Add half the oil mixture to the polenta and stir to combine. Transfer to a serving bowl and use the back of a spoon to create a swirl-shaped indentation on top of the polenta. Carefully spoon the rest of the herbed oil over the top of the polenta, allowing it to settle into the swirl pattern. Serve.


Cured by Steve McHugh & Paula Forbes (© 2024). Photographs by Denny Culbert. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Recipe reprinted with permission from Cured by Steve McHugh & Paula Forbes (Ten Speed Press, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC., 2024). Photography by Denny Culbert.
Keyword Basil, Butter, Cornmeal, Cured, Garlic, marjoram, Oregano, Paula Forbes, Polenta, Red pepper flakes, Rosemary, Steve McHugh, Thyme

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