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Can I Use Polenta Instead Of Cornmeal For the Cornbread Topped Chilli Con Carne?

Asked by KKW42455. Answered on 13th November 2023

Full question

I would love to make the Cornbread Topped Chilli Con Carne, but I am on an island and need to substitute. Can I cover the chilli with polenta? Thank you!!

Cornbread Topped Chilli Con Carne
Photo by James Merrell
Cornbread Topped Chilli Con Carne
By Nigella
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Our answer

Nigella's Cornbread Topped Chilli Con Carne (from FEAST) is a great dish for a crowd as the chilli can be cooked in advance and just reheated and topped with the cornbread mixture before baking. The cornbread is made with a mixture of cornmeal and a little flour.

We are not sure if you are referring to ready-cooked polenta, polenta (the dish) made at home or the cornmeal labelled as polenta. The first two options are not really suitable substitutes for the cornbread as polenta is too heavy to sit on top of the chilli as it bakes and will not rise in the oven in the way that a cornbread mixture would. For the polenta grain it may be possible to use it as an alternative to cornmeal, it just depends which type of polenta you can buy. Polenta and cornmeal are very slightly different in that they are made from different varieties of corn and they can be ground slightly differently. But if you can buy a medium-ground polenta, that will take 20-30 minutes to cook, then it may be possible to use it instead of cornmeal as it is a close substitute. However, if you have the "instant" type of polenta that can be cooked in just 5 minutes then it is not a good substitute as this type of grain has been precooked, dried and ground again. It will absorb liquids differently and act in a different way to cornmeal or medium-ground polenta grain. Please note also that as we have not used polenta as a substitute for the cornmeal ourselves, we are unable to guarantee the results.

PeachMelba Pavlova

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