One of my favorite side dishes in polenta. Warm and creamy it is satisfying on its own and makes the perfect bed for soaking up rich sauces and stews. When dining out I will often select a dish simply because the main entree is accompanied by polenta. But despite my love of this dish, until recently I rarely cooked it at home. Why? After all making it is quite simple; all you really need is boiling water and cornmeal and a spoon for stirring. Lots of stirring. And that is why I tended to shy away from making homemade polenta. Try as I might; experimenting with temperature, cooking apparatus and spoon, my polenta would inevitably end up filled with unappetizing lumps. But then I broke out my slow cooker.
Yes, polenta made in a slow cooker. Really, nothing could be easier and best of all, there simply aren’t any lumps. I love it. This recipe is from William Sonoma and is everything a good polenta should be. It is rich and creamy and this version is studded with corn kernels. By topping it off with sautéed mushrooms you have a complete meal by itself. Or you can serve it along side your favorite meat dish that has lots of juice you want to sop up.
CREAMY HERBED POLENTA w/ MUSHROOMS
4 cups low sodium chicken stock
1 cup stone-ground polenta
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large shallot, finely chopped
3/4 pound brushed clean and quartered
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons minced fresh oregano
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup fresh or thawed frozen corn kernels
- In a slow cooker, stir together the stock, polenta, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of the black pepper.
- Cover and cook on the low setting for 3 to 3 1⁄2 hours, stirring two or three times if possible. The liquid should be absorbed and the polenta should be thick and soft and no longer gritty.
- About 10 minutes before the polenta is ready, in a large, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter with the oil.
- Add the shallot and mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms are tender and their liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the garlic and parsley, season with remaining salt and pepper, and cook for 1 minute more.
- About 5 minutes before the polenta is ready, stir in the oregano and thyme, Parmesan and corn kernels, then re-cover.
- Spoon the polenta into warm shallow bowls or a serving bowl and top with the mushroom mixture.
- Serve immediately.
Serves 4 to 6.