Totally stumped for dinner ideas and with a fridge desperately in need of restocking I was looking around the web for inspiration for some chorizo that needed to get used up. I had an idea that I wanted to do something with polenta but I needed a little more than just an idea to get dinner on the table. Plus, I’ve always struggled with polenta. Despite following the directions on my packet it always ends up sticky and gunky. And if I try to go the extra step of frying it, I can’t even get it to set up enough to fry. I wind up with a hideous, crumbly polenta scramble. Not a pretty sight and definitely not appetizing. So I landed on a polenta blog post that seemed to be written by my food soul mate as she started by describing her struggles with the stuff (http://scandelights.com/2011/06/10/creamy-polenta-with-mushrooms-and-chorizo/). It was comforting to know I was not alone and I got an interesting new idea to add some cream cheese to the polenta. This post was the push I needed towards the stove, even though what I ended up making was not exactly the same, but was delicious nonetheless. Little missy found it a little spicy, though funny enough her 1 year old little brother gobbled it up (mixed with plain yogurt). If you prefer milder flavors, you can try this with kielbasa instead of chorizo.
Creamy Polenta and Chorizo Bake (serves 4)
1 cup yellow corn meal
½ fresh jalapeno pepper, finely diced and with the seeds and veins removed (or other peppers depending on your heat tolerance)
2 wedges laughing cow cream cheese (plain is fine though you could use the chipotle and queso fresco for a bit of a kick). You can also use a couple of tbs of regular cream cheese.
¼ yellow onion, thinly sliced
½ lb chorizo sliced
Extra virgin olive oil (for sautéing)
1 cup frozen corn kernels (or fresh if you have it)
1 or 2 handfuls Mexican blend shredded cheese
- Cook the polenta according to package instructions (or not). My package of polenta says to cook it for 40 minutes, or until it reaches a desired consistency. I have always cooked it for the full 40 minutes but tonight, primarily due to time constraints, I didn’t, and would you believe it was much, much better? I only cooked it for 10 or 15 minutes, until the consistency resembled oatmeal. I happened to have a cup of chicken stock left in the fridge so I used that and topped it off with water. I added the diced jalapeno at this stage.
- When the polenta has cooked to the desired consistency take it off the heat and add in the cream cheese and stir to begin melting the cheese. Set aside and cover the pan to keep it warm.
- Sauté the sliced onion and chorizo in some EVOO. Stir the onion and chorizo into the polenta.
- Thaw the frozen corn in the microwave (skip this if you are using fresh) and stir it into the polenta ensuring that all the ingredients are combined and the cream cheese has melted. Leftover grilled corn on the cob would add a lot of flavor to this dish too.
- Pour into a greased 8 or 9 inch cake tin and top with a couple of handfuls of Mexican blend shredded cheese.
- Bake in a 400F oven until the cheese has melted and browned slightly (about 15 minutes).
- You can garnish this with some fresh cilantro and serve with plain yogurt and salsa and a fresh green salad. If you serve this hot from the oven it will be soft (sort of like a risotto consistency). If you let it cool down it will set up and you can slice it.