A few weeks ago, I posted a link for something or other that I’d cooked up on my Facebook, and a friend from middle school, Jillian, said, innocently enough, “I’d be curious to see what you could do with polenta.”
In the 26 years I’ve been stumbling around this planet and devouring things, I had eaten polenta exactly one time. My reaction upon eating it was basically “WHY HAS NO ONE EVER TOLD ME ABOUT HOW GLORIOUS CORN MEAL CAN BE?!” It was kind of like the first time I had Nutella. OK, maybe it wasn’t quite as dramatic as my first experience with Nutella, but STILL. The polenta had goat cheese in it, so, you know…it was pretty magical in its own right.
So, I said:
and got to work concocting a polenta recipe.
I’m one of “those” people who believes nearly everything can be improved with cheese and/or bacon. (Chocolate, for the record, cannot. I had bacon chocolate once. Never again. Never again.) But, since Jill is a vegetarian, and she kind of inspired the recipe, I decided to keep this vegetarian friendly – albeit not even remotely vegan friendly, because there is a borderline ridiculous amount of cheese in here.
Sorry, vegans. You’re missing out.
Cheesy baked polenta
For the polenta:
4 cups water
1 1/2 cups coarsely ground cornmeal
3 tbsp unsalted butter
about 1 1/2 cups brie and Swiss cheese
salt & pepper
1 large shallot, sliced thinly
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup sliced portobello mushrooms
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
Start off by caramelizing your shallots. Add butter and olive oil to an ovenproof skillet and heat over medium high heat. Once the butter melts, add your shallots and turn the heat down to medium-low. Toss the shallot to coat with butter/oil, then cover and let saute for about 15-20 minutes.
Uncover the shallots, then add your salt and sugar, toss again, and saute uncovered for another 15-20 minutes, still over medium-low heat.
Next, add your garlic to the pan and saute with the shallots until the garlic becomes fragrant. Add your mushrooms, toss to coat, and saute until they start to darken and give off some liquid, about five minutes.
Turn off the heat, pour the vegetable mixture in a separate bowl, then wipe out any excess liquid/butter/etc. from the pan. Add the vegetables back to the pan.
To make the polenta: Bring four cups of water to a boil, then add salt and pepper. Add your cornmeal, then turn the heat down to medium. Whisk your polenta to prevent it from being too clumpy, then continue to stir for another five minutes. Add in your cheese and unsalted butter, then stir to combine and melt. This should take another five minutes or so, over low/medium low heat.
Pour your polenta into the ovenproof skillet containing the vegetables and mix, making sure to spread the vegetables throughout the polenta evenly. Bake at 350 for about 20-25 minutes.