CREAMY GARLIC & ROSEMARY POLENTA

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This is a variation on a Barefoot Contessa recipe. It produces a delicious creamy polenta with a lovely subtle rosemary flavor. Absolutely perfect as a side dish or as the base for a ragù such as Bolognese.

I served it last evening as a side for fried oysters along with some grilled veggies. It was one terrific meal, if I do say so myself. Actually Mr. C. was the one who first stated that last night’s dinner “so didn’t suck”. (Just about the best compliment anyone can receive in our crowd of food crazies and musical buddies.)

So if you too would like to fix a side dish that “so doesn’t suck”, give this recipe a try. And if you are one of those cooks who hasn’t tried polenta because you are worried about lumps, or having to hang over the polenta the entire cooking time – relax. The old wives tale that states that polenta has to be stirred continuously and then only with a wooden spoon, is just that – a tale for old wives. And since I clearly fit the demographic of “old and wife”, believe me when I say, your polenta can happily cook away and turn out beautifully even if you only give it a whisk or stir every few minutes. So meanwhile you can be preparing other fantastic dishes.

So be brave ladies and gentlemen. You too can fix a polenta just as delicious as any you would experience in even the classiest Italian restaurant. But let’s be honest here. Polenta is really just a fancy name for cornmeal mush. The difference lies in the additives and of course in the name. Polenta (Italian) versus corn meal mush (down home rural America). And they say, “what’s in a name”? In the case of polenta – everything! (Well that and a little butter, garlic, some herbs and spices, chicken stock, and Parmesan cheese.)

2 T. unsalted butter
2 T.  extra virgin olive oil
2 lg. garlic cloves, minced
1 T. minced fresh rosemary leaves
¼ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
½ tsp. kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
4 c. chicken stock
½ c. milk
1 c. cornmeal (not instant polenta, you need the real thing)
¾ c. grated Parmesan cheese 

Heat the butter and olive oil in a large heavy bottomed saucepan.  Add the garlic, rosemary, crushed red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper; sauté for 1 minute.  Add the chicken stock and milk; bring to a boil.

Slowly pour the cornmeal into the chicken stock while whisking.  Cook over low heat, whisking frequently, for 15 to 25 minutes or until thickened and bubbly. (The polenta should appear soft, moist, spreadable, creamy, and just barely flowing when done.) Remove from heat and whisk in the Parmesan.

Please let me know if you like this recipe. Thanks