I was preparing dinner for friends recently while on a trip in Napa. Bill and I really both enjoy Polenta, which is a food product made out of cornmeal. A traditional part of Italian cuisine, polenta is commonly made by mixing coarse, yellow cornmeal with boiling water and a pinch of salt. Traditional polenta is cooked until it thickens and almost solidifies. The cooked polenta is formed into a log and sliced like bread. Other polenta recipes are more rich, calling for milk, stock and butter to add flavor to the dish. This creamier-tasting polenta is cooked and served more like a porridge or pudding and is the way we like it most! Without these added ingredients, it is relatively bland in taste and there isn’t much about it that is unhealthy.
While it contains numerous vitamins and minerals, it is not classified as a good source for any of them, reports the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. Polenta contains traces of the minerals calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium and zinc. The vitamins found in polenta in small amounts are: B vitamins, vitamin A and vitamin E. During this trip, I was working with ingredients that I had on hand and created this version including Brie with mushrooms that turned out really delicious!
2 Tablespoons Butter
1/2 Red Onion, chopped fine
2 Cups Chicken Stock, homemade is best, but I didn’t have any so I used bouillon cubes
2/3 Cup Polenta
1/4 Cup Sour Cream
7 ounces of Brie Cheese
Salt & Pepper, to taste
I chose a delightful soft-ripened cheese with a gentle mushroom flavor. Bill isn’t a fan of mushrooms texture, but I’ve found he likes the flavor so this is a good way to incorporate them. Brie is a luscious triple-cream cheese and this gave a earthy and creamy buttery taste in every bite!
In a deep pan, saute the onion in butter until it begins to become translucent.
Stir in grits and mix until all of the butter is absorbed.
Dissolve bouillon in water and gradually stir it into the grits. Cover and reduce to a simmer. Stir frequently for about 30 minutes or so. The package recommends a long-handled wooden spoon because the Polenta will spit and splatter and could cause burns.
Lower the heat to a low simmer.
Cube the cheese and stir it, along with the sour cream into the cooked polenta.
Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir and fluff.
I served the polenta topped with a homemade tomato and garlic sauce, Cajun style shrimp and roasted vegetables topped with grated Parmesan. It was wonderful!