Doin’ a little dance in the kitchen. Polenta for dinner! The only thing better than creamy, buttery, luscious polenta is polenta with smoked Gouda added to it! The smokey, rich, cheesy flavor is a decadent treat! Polenta has to be my all time favorite starchy side dishes. I know it’s not a potato, which I adore…..but it is so fast, so easy, which means I get to eat even sooner and that makes me a happy girl! This fact alone could give it it’s elevated status, but don’t stop there. Polenta loves to bring more friends to the party. Toss in your favorite melting cheese, some fresh herbs, a little bacon or pancetta and you have a million different varieties of a very satisfying, filling side dish. Creativity reigns supreme when it comes to polenta’s possibilities! What could be better than that?
Polenta has a long history, with it’s roots in Northern Italy, and a reputation for taking a long time to prepare. Yes, you can start it from a coarse grain cornmeal and let it simmer for 30 minutes or even for hours but you don’t have to. I just don’t have time for that or the patience to wait that long to eat. My favorite way to serve polenta is soft and creamy but just like polenta’s ability to accept different flavors, it’s also amiable to different shapes and textures. Once the basic polenta is made you can choose how you wish to serve it.
Soft Polenta: Serve it directly out of the pot, topped with sauce, meats or vegetables. My favorite!
Firm Polenta: Once completely cooked, pour into a greased shallow baking sheet pan about 2 inches thick and allow to set. Cut into squares and serve.
Baked Polenta: Cut the firm polenta into slices and place in a buttered baking dish. Sprinkle with grated cheese and bake at 375 degrees F. until golden.
Grilled Polenta: Cut firm polenta into squares, brush with oil and grill lightly on both sides.
Fried Polenta: Cut the firm polenta into squares, then cut the square in half to form triangles. Dip in egg wash and then lightly dredge in flour. Fry in a few inches of hot oil until golden brown and crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. My 2nd favorite!
Here’s a creamy version to serve with meat and sauce over it. I love it with Chipotle Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Whiskey Cherry Sauce! Oh, you’ve gotta try this combo! It is a knock your socks off, should have invited friends over kind of dinner!
Smoked Gouda Polenta:
The cast of characters in this amazing little side dish can be found anywhere. When they are combined, they sing with the flavors of Northern Italy and it is music to my taste buds!
Bring first 4 ingredients to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce the heat to medium low.
As soon as the water begins to simmer, start pouring in the cornmeal in a thin stream, very slowly while whisking constantly to prevent lumps.
Once all the cornmeal has been added, keep the heat at a low simmer, whisking occasionally, and cook for 5 minutes or until thickened.
Add cheese and butter, stirring until melted and combined.
I can’t control myself….actually I don’t even try. Let’s call it quality control, a little bowl and a big spoon! Keep what’s left of the polenta warm until ready to serve. Oh yummmmmm!
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 cups water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
- 1 cup uncooked quick-cooking cornmeal
- 1 1/2 cups shredded smoked Gouda cheese
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Bring first 4 ingredients to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce the heat to medium low.
- As soon as the water begins to simmer, start pouring in the cornmeal in a thin stream, very slowly while whisking constantly to prevent lumps.
- Once all the cornmeal has been added, keep the heat at a low simmer, whisking occasionally, and cook for 5 minutes or until thickened.
- Add cheese and butter, stirring until melted and combined. Keep warm until ready to serve.