Recipe: Slow-Cooker Polenta
Behind the cut, find a recipe for slow cooker polenta, including how to turn it into a one-pot meal through the timely addition of greens and proteins.
Adapted from Alton Brown's Savory Polenta recipe.
NB: Unlike most slow cooker recipes, this isn't quite fire-and-forget. You do have to pay attention every twenty minutes, but that's easier than traditional polenta (constant stirring) or Alton's oven variation (opening an oven to stir a ripping hot saucepan every ten minutes).
If you're allergic to corn (hi, pearlshadow!), here's a fun history fact: our oldest citation of polenta comes from Ancient Rome, which was, of course, long before the introduction of maize to Europe. You can commit polenta with any of several different whole, coarse-ground grains, such as farro, millet, spelt, buckwheat, or--and this is the old Roman style--barley. It was even made with other coarse meals, such as chestnut and chickpea.
If you find a multi-grain hot cereal that's made of coarse-ground grain, you may as well try it here!
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium red onion, diced
generous pinch of salt
3 or more cloves of garlic, minced
1 qt chicken broth or stock
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbsp butter
2 oz Parmesan cheese, grated
If you want to make a one-pot meal of it that will easily feed three, you will also want:
1 12-16 oz packet pre-cooked sausage, such as Aidell's spinach-feta, sliced into coins
10-12 oz spinach, mixed "super" greens, or similar (e.g. a 10-ounce bag of baby spinach), roughly chopped
Heat a Dutch oven or large skillet over medium heat and add oil. Once oil is hot, add onion and salt and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are becoming translucent, about 3-5 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high and add the sausage slices, stirring frequently until they are slightly browned. Add garlic and stir until fragrant. Remove onion and sausage to slow cooker and degrease pan with 1 c of the chicken stock, scraping up any browned bits. Once the bottom has been scraped, add the rest of the chicken stock, increase heat to high, and bring to a boil. Once stock is boiling, whisk vigorously while adding polenta in a slow, steady stream, then empty skillet or Dutch oven into slow cooker, making sure to get any polenta that's left in the pot. Season with pepper.
Turn the slow cooker to high and cook for one hour and forty minutes, stirring every twenty minutes or so. When only twenty minutes remain, add the greens and butter. Once cooking is complete, stir in Parmesan cheese until melted and incorporated. Serve immediately.