Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Slow Cooker Cheesy Polenta

After watching Michael Chiarello make enough polenta to cover a table on The Food Network's The Best Thing I Ever Made, I was inspired to try making my own.  Once I realized that probably half of my little fridge shelf was occupied by cheese, I went hunting for a recipe that incorporated both and wouldn't be too hard.  Luckily for me, this is a common enough thought process that Cabot has a recipe on their website for Slow Cooker Cheesy Polenta.

The first night, I ate hot in a bowl with a little bit of salt and pepper. It truly needed nothing else.  Afterward, I spread the leftovers on a cookie sheet (sprayed with non-stick cooking spray worked best, but bare was okay too), covered them, and let them cool over night in the fridge before slicing into triangles/squares for storage.

I will definitely be making this again. Also, I'm working on another post that talks about how to top/pair this decadent cheesy polenta (especially leftovers!).

Slow Cooker Cheesy Polenta
  • 7 cups hot water 
  • 2 cups polenta (not "quick-cooking") or coarse-ground yellow cornmeal 
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 2 teaspoons salt 
  • 12 ounces cheddar cheese, grated (about 3 cups)  - Note: many other cheeses could be substituted, but the sharpness of a cheddar works really well.
Combine the water, polenta, olive oil and salt in slow cooker; whisk until well blended. I've seen some recipes that say you should sift your cornmeal first, but it didn't seems to really have a huge bearing on the texture, so unless you have an awesome sifter (I don't), you probably don't need to bother.  Add cheese and whisk again.  Cover to slow cooker and cook on high setting for 2 hours, or until liquid is mostly absorbed. Stir together well. (The original recipe said that the polenta should have this consistency of "thick cooked cereal" - which I don't think I've ever eaten, so I just went for "thickish creamy goodness.")

If you don't plan on serving the polenta right away, or don't think you're going to eat all of it (it makes quite a bit!), pour it onto oiled baking sheet(s) with sides, spreading it into an even layer. Cover the baking sheets with with plastic wrap and let cool. When you're ready to serve the polenta, cut it into rectangles--or triangles or hearts, have fun with it!--and sauté in nonstick skillet with olive oil until golden on both sides.

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