Whenever I saw it mentioned though, it was always very creamy with lots of cheese. It looked amazing and people talked about it like it was a dish from the heavens. I finally found some in the store and decided to make my own.
What a horrible experience! The polenta smelled like dirty feet and it wasn’t creamy at all but gritty. Perhaps why the term grits came about? I really disliked the experience, so much so, that I tossed it all and pushed the idea of polenta aside.
With my food knowledge and experience growing, polenta came back to the forefront again. Because I try to be fair with foods, I decided to give it another try. I played around with it and became more familiar with it. This time there was success!
Polenta still smells like dirty feet as it cooks but once you add in the cream base, some cheese, and butter if you’re feeling punchy, that smell turns into something very tempting and enticing.
Polenta can be made to take on lots of different flavors so I thought, why not use pumpkin? It’s creamy and I bet it would provide a creamy texture to the dish. I tested the waters and it took me a bit of experimenting, but I finally got a great pumpkin polenta dish!
Andrea’s Pumpkin Polenta
- 1C Polenta (Regular, not quick cooking)
- 3C Chicken Stock
- 1/2C Pumpkin puree
- 4 Green onions, chopped
- 1 Jalapeno, chopped
- 5-6 Slices of crispy bacon, crumbled
- 1C Chipotle Cheddar Cheese, shredded
- 2 tsp Chili Powder
- 1 tsp Garlic Powder
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Olive Oil for sauteeing (about 2 tsp)
In a medium sized sauce pot, heat olive oil over medium heat, and add in the jalapeno. Sautee for about two minutes, then add in the chicken stock. Bring stock to a boil and add in the polenta. Reduce your heat down to medium at this point. Stir continually until the polenta starts to thicken up. It should resemble the consistency of a hot cereal, like cream of wheat. Add in the salt, pepper, chili powder, and garlic powder and stir. Once you have the right consistency, turn the heat down to low and add in the pumpkin. Stir until well incorporated. Add in the cheese and stir. Now add in the bacon and green onion. Mix to combine, and serve! Sprinkle a little extra cheese on top for added flavor.
You can see that this is not a sweet or dessert type polenta. But one with some spiciness and a touch of salty sass from the bacon. The pumpkin gives the polenta it’s trademark orange color while making the dish extra creamy. Using more than 1/2 a cup of pumpkin will result in a polenta that is too runny and it will not set up nice for you.
I used Cabot Chipotle Cheddar but if you can’t find that or don’t want to use that, you can sub in some pepperjack for kick or regular cheddar.
This can easily be made veggie friendly by using a vegetable stock and omitting the bacon.
I wouldn’t have minded if this actually had a bit more spice to it, next time I might use a chipotle pepper plus some sauce instead of the jalapeno.
This dish makes a nice fall inspired side dish that’s full of flavor and I bet would surprise many that it contains pumpkin.
Keep in mind that this makes a lot of polenta! Great for a party! If you have leftovers, place it in a shallow baking dish. The next day, cut into squares and sautee up in a bit of oil. That will give the polenta a nice crispy outside and make leftovers a little more exciting.
Do you like polenta? When was the first time you had it?
Have fun guys, and remember, always play with your food! Enjoy!