Although polenta is by no means a new side dish for most foodies, it is fairly new to me. I have made it once, and the experience was traumatizing enough that I haven’t been brave to try again for a year. Let me start out by saying that polenta is a versatile and delicious side dish for many meals. And , it tastes pretty darn good. However… it is… a little high maintenance. But that shouldn’t scare you off from trying this recipe. I made the full recipe. I left half of the batch in the whipped form and the other half I refrigerated into little bars. I’ll post a recipe this week that uses the bar version. But for now, enjoy the creamy version. As a sidenote, if you’re really stretched f
or time, pick up a roll of polenta from the grocery store. It will save you a bit of time. But I still recommend making it from scratch and adding fresh herbs. Much more tasty!
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
2 cups half-and-half
2 cups milk
2 cups cornmeal
1/2 cup good grated Parmesan
Flour, olive oil, and butter, for frying
1. Heat the butter and olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, rosemary, salt, and pepper and saute for 1 minute. Add the chicken stock, half-and-half, and milk and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and slowly sprinkle the cornmeal into the hot milk while stirring constantly with awhisk. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for a few minutes, until thickened and bubbly. Off the heat, stir in the Parmesan. Pour into a 9 by 13 by 2-inch pan, smooth the top, and refrigerate until firm and cold.
2. Cut the chilled polenta into 12 squares, as you would with brownies. Lift each one out with a spatula and cut diagonally into triangles. Dust each triangle lightly in flour. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a large saute pan and cook the triangles in batches over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes, turning once, until browned on the outside and heated inside. Add more butter and oil, as needed. Serve immediately.
Parmesan Polenta and Spicy Sausage
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 ounces (2 links) sun-dried tomato chicken sausage (such as Al Fresco), sliced
1 cup chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 (14.5-ounce) cans no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil, divided
2 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
1 cup water
3/4 cup quick-cooking polenta
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1. Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan, swirling to coat. Add sausage; sauté for 3 minutes or until browned. Add onion; sauté for 5 minutes or until tender. Add garlic; sauté 30 seconds. Add oregano, pepper, and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 1/4 cup basil to pan; cook 5 minutes or until sauce thickens.
2. Combine broth and water in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Add polenta; reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes or until thick, stirring frequently with a whisk. Stir in half of cheese. Place 2/3 cup polenta in each of 4 bowls; top with about 3/4 cup sauce. Top each serving with 1 tablespoon basil and 1 tablespoon cheese.