Polenta Bread and Balsamic Honey Butter 10.000

Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post; tableware from Crate and Barrel

May 22, 2013

This moist bread can be baked in the oven (see NOTE), but it's just as easy to bake it on the grill. Make sure the grill and grate are stable.

Make Ahead: The butter needs a few hours' chilling time. The bread is best served warm, but it can be baked a day in advance, wrapped in aluminum foil and reheated on a low-heat/dying-embers grill.

Servings: 10 - 12
  • For the butter
  • 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) good-quality unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 6 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • For the bread
  • 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups finely ground polenta, such as Colavita brand
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse sea salt or kosher salt
  • 1 cup grated Asiago cheese
  • 1/2 cup sliced scallions (green parts only, cut crosswise)


For the butter: Combine the butter, honey and balsamic vinegar in a food processor; puree until smooth and well incorporated. Transfer to a container and refrigerate until firm.

For the bread: Prepare the grill for direct heat. If using a gas grill, preheat to medium-low to medium (375 degrees). If using a charcoal grill, light the charcoal; when the coals are ready, distribute them evenly under the cooking area. For a medium-hot fire, you should be able to hold your hand about 6 inches above the coals for 6 to 7 seconds.

Meanwhile, melt the butter and let it cool a bit. Use more butter to generously grease the inside of a small or medium (5-to-8-quart) Dutch oven, then line just the bottom with parchment paper.

Add the eggs and buttermilk to the cooled butter.

Combine the flour, polenta, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cheese and scallions in the bowl of a stand mixer; beat on low speed just until incorporated. Increase the speed to medium; gradually add the egg-butter mixture. Once it has been added, beat on medium speed for 2 minutes; this will help activate the baking powder.

Transfer the batter to the Dutch oven, leveling the surface. Cover with the pot lid. Place on the grill and close the grill lid. Bake for about 1 hour or until the bread gives some resistance when gently pressed in the center.

Remove the pot lid and transfer the Dutch oven to a heatproof surface to rest for 10 minutes. Use an offset knife or flexible thin spatula to loosen the sides of the bread, which should pull away from the pot a bit as the bread cools. Carefully invert and place the bread on a cutting board, discarding the parchment paper. Cut into slices or wedges and serve with the butter.

NOTE: The bread can be oven-baked in a buttered, covered Dutch oven (with a liner of parchment paper on the bottom for easier extraction) at 350 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes; begin checking for doneness at 50 minutes.

Rate it

Recipe Source

Adapted from "Michael Chiarello's Live Fire: 125 Recipes for Cooking Outdoors," with Ann Krueger Spivack and Claudia Sansone (Chronicle, 2013).

Tested by Jeffrey Donald and Bonnie S. Benwick.

Email questions to the Food Section.

Email questions to the Food Section at food@washpost.com.