Caramelized Shallot and Sun-Dried Tomato Polenta

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With the snow piled up all around, I can’t imagine a better way to eat my feelings than with this big bowl of polenta. It’s just the sort of easy meal to make me forget that it’s still snowing. A nice glass of red will help too. -Maggie

Over Christmas, my brother-in-law’s family gathered for a traditional holiday meal at this hole-in-the-wall called Coney Island Bar; they have been doing so for years. Shawn, my brother-in-law, remembers going there with his grandfather when he was a small boy. The men would play cards, “gossip” and drink coffee.  He would sit on a stool and take it all in.

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They are Italian and, needless to say, they love their food.  The wine and dishes coming out of the kitchen was abundant, not to mention the stories of yesteryear. The meal served was the type of wholesome comfort food Shawn’s grandmother would have served her family. There wasn’t a single dish that did not make me feel as if I was sitting around someone’s kitchen table, savoring each homemade bite.

One dish stayed firmly in my mind and followed me out the door – a flavorful, milky polenta. The folks sitting at my end of the table turned up their noses, but I embraced the bowl, drew it in and helped myself at least three or four times. It was creamy, had the essence of rich chicken stock and was seasoned with ripe sun-dried tomatoes. I dissected each bite and stashed the thoughts deep into my memory, to recreate it at home.

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This recipe is just as creamy as the one I enjoyed that snowy evening in Reno, but I’ve added caramelized shallots and fresh oregano to complement the sun-dried tomatoes. When I make polenta, I use whole milk and butter and a rich stock; it adds an intense creaminess. The addition of parmesan cheese takes it to another level. It is rich and silky, and good enough as is. But served with a tomato based dish, it is pure heaven.

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Caramelized Shallot and Sun-dried Tomato Polenta

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh oregano, minced
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes (packed in olive oil), finely chopped
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 4 tablespoons salted butter, separated
  • 1 cup polenta
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • Sea salt, to taste

Directions:

  1. In a large saucepan heat the olive oil over medium heat.
  2. Add the shallot, stir and cook over low heat until lightly caramelized. This will take about 10 minutes, and you will want to stir often.
  3. Add the oregano and sundried tomatoes to the saucepan, stir and cook for 1 minute. Remove and place into a small bowl.
  4. In the same large saucepan bring the milk, stock, and 2 tablespoons of butter to boil.
  5. Lower the heat to low, and slowly stir in the polenta. Continue stirring until smooth.
  6. Cook, stirring often until thick, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  7. Stir in the sundried tomato mixture, the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and the parmesan cheese.
  8. Season to taste with salt.
Photos taken and styled by Denise Woodward.

Eat Boutique is an award-winning shop and story-driven recipe site created by Maggie Battista. After hosting pop-up markets for 25,000+ guests, Maggie is now focused on opening her first permanent Eat Boutique​–​a food​-​retail concept space ​with a new way to the very best food. Her second cookbook, A New Way to Food: Recipes That Revamped My Pantry & Made Me Love Me, At Last, will be published by Roost Books/Penguin Random House in 2019. Her first cookbook, Food Gift Love, features more than 100 food gift recipes to make, wrap, and share and is available wherever you find favorite cookbooks.

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Comments

  • Jane Bonacci

    What a wonderful dish/meal Denise! My husband’s family is Italian and they never serve polenta – I can’t figure it out. It is one of my favorites and I order it whenever I see it on the menu. Your luscious version will definitely be on my dinner table soon! 🙂

  • chezus

    Thank you Jane! That is funny about your husband. My brother in-law is Italian, and he normally does not like polenta. Though he did love the dish we enjoyed over the holidays, and I am curious to know if he has made this one at home. It is loaded with flavor!