Saturday, June 20, 2009

Polenta with Chiles and Cheese

We've discussed polenta before, and my intense love of this apparently controversial grain. The texture isn't for everyone, I suppose. But for me it is like having cornbread in a more socially acceptable form for a side dish. Pretty fabulous. And it's more versatile than you might think; case in point with this recipe. Add some Mexican flavors, including cheese, chiles and cilantro, and you suddenly have a whole meal centered around this lovely little yellow grain.

I was hoping that by baking this casserole, the polenta would get firm and solid, but it still maintained its porridge-y texture. That didn't make it any less delicious, but I think next time I might make it with less liquid. Or perhaps bake it a bit longer and see what happens.

Serve this with a green salad and prepare for the party in your mouth!

Polenta with Chiles and Cheese
adapted from Bon Appetit's Fast Easy Fresh Cookbook
serves 4-6


1 1/2 cups skim milk
1 1/2 cups low sodium vegetable broth
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal (polenta)
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan
1 7-ounce can whole green chiles, drained
1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
2/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
4 oz. Monterey Jack cheese, grated
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream


1. Grease an 8x8 baking dish. Combine milk, broth, cornmeal, garlic, and salt in a heavy medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, whisking constantly. Cook until polenta is tender and thickened, stirring often, about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in parmesan.

2. Pour half of polenta into prepared baking dish. Cover with half of chiles and half of corn. Sprinkle with half of cilantro and jack cheese. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons cream. Spoon remaining polenta evenly over, top with remaining chiles, corn, cilantro and cheese, and pour remaining cream over the top.

3. Up to this step, you can prepare ahead, cover, and refrigerate. When ready to cook, preheat oven to 400. Bake uncovered until heated through, puffed, and golden brown, about 30 minutes.


1 comment:

  1. This sounds great (minus the narsty cilantro).

    I have eaten polenta in a variety of preparations and even some of the best restaurants around. The only time I can remember it not having the porridge-y consistency is when it was deep fried. Not saying don't try what you mentioned, just thought I'd share!