Recipe : Grilled Polenta “Cake” with Spicy Mayonnaise Sauce

Hello! I mentioned in a previous post (found here), that we served this grilled polenta with a spicy mayonnaise sauce at a recent barbecue. Nick, our resident chef, has been perfecting this recipe for a savory side-dish or appetizer for a couple of years now, and it’s time to share the recipe with you! I love it and think you will, too.

I’d never watched him make it before, so was surprised by how quick and easy it is. He just boils some water and mixes the ingredients into it and it’s cooked in about 5 minutes. Then, he transfers it to a 6-inch spring-form pan and covers it. He leaves it to cool at room temperature and then sticks it in the fridge, either overnight or for a couple of hours, until it sets up. To cook it, which is really just heating it up and browning it, he flips it onto a hot flat bbq pan.

The sauce is only two ingredients, but when they join together, it’s magic! It is so delicious! We use the sauce for other things, too. (Note that the volume in the photos is less than the recipe makes, because we’d already had some of it the day before the pictures were shot.)

Granted, here we are in mid-October, so grilling season is probably coming to an end for many readers, so you might want to bookmark this for next spring. In the meantime, you can find the 6-inch springform pan that it requires (which is likely a smaller pan than you already have). If you’re in Toronto, we found ours at Tap Phong located in Chinatown, on the west side of Spadina, south of Baldwin Street.

We haven’t tried it, but, if you can’t wait until bbq season, you can try using your indoor oven. Everything is already cooked in the pan, so all you really need to do is heat it up and brown it, so I imagine, that’s easily done in the oven, using the broiler at the end.


Grilled Polenta Cake with Spicy Mayonnaise Sauce

Polenta Cake

  • 3/4 cup of corn meal
  • 1 & 1/2 cup of water
  • 1 tsp coarse salt (a little under a tsp regular salt)
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • About 1/4 cup of chopped mixed fresh garden herbs. A combination of basil, parsley, oregano, thyme, rosemary, chive, or just one or two of them.
  • 1 tablespoon of butter, plus more to butter the pan.
  • 3/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

Butter a 6-inch springform cake pan.

Bring water and salt to a boil in a saucepan.

Reduce heat to medium. Use a whisk to add cornmeal. Stir briefly to make a porridge.

Add herbs, butter, Parmesan and olive oil. Whisk together until it reaches a smooth and evenly distributed consistency.

Pour into the prepared springform pan. Smooth top with a spatula.

Cover with wrap or foil. I wash and reuse pieces of parchment paper and find this works well with a rubber band holding in place.

Once cooled down, chill in the fridge overnight ( or, 2 hours at least).

Grill on a barbecue using a bbq cooking sheet or metal cooking plate. Remove the bottom plate from the spring form pan and use it to flip the polenta onto the dry hot surface. Pry off the spring form base and let the Polenta get crispy on the bottom side. Then, flip over with a spatula to cook the other side to the same degree.

Depending on the heat you use, time will vary but, I cook about 5 minutes per side. Note: I use a charcoal barbecue but a gas one should work fine. I’ve never tried it, but heating it up in a regular oven, and finishing under the broiler would probably work, too.


Cheesy herb infused Polenta – Barbecue side dish

Spicy sauce

Ingredients part 2
  • About 2 tablespoons hot chili in oil, also known as “chili paste” (or to taste)
  • About 1/2 cup mayonnaise
Instructions part 2

Mix mayonnaise and chill sauce together.

Serve with cooked Polenta.

Description part 2

A spicy mayonnaise sauce

Ingredients part 3
    Instructions part 3

    Ingredients part 4
      Instructions part 4
      BBQ cornmeal cake, Herb Polenta cake