25 Jan Butternut Squash Polenta
Somedays, I just need to curl up with a starch-filled bowl of comfort, and polenta never disappoints.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m seriously late to the polenta party. I feel like everyone’s cherished childhood memories of food, comfort, and home were centered around warm bowls of polenta, or thick slices fried in their grandmother’s cast iron skillets. I have no such romantic memories, my mother hates polenta. As a deeply rooted midwest family with distant ties to Scandinavian and Polish immigration, polenta was cast aside for potatoes or noodles.
It wasn’t until recently that I actually tried good polenta. I was expecting warm tasteless mush, and was delighted by the rich creaminess. And now I just want to make polenta at every chance I can get.
Maybe I’m still too inexperienced, but I can’t really tell the difference between instant and traditional polenta. To me, the instant polenta is more reliable, and just so incredibly easy. I don’t understand the purist’s argument for traditional polenta, it takes 1000x longer to make, and has more potential to come out with the wrong consistency. I’m not giving up yet, I’m still trying to master it, but I’m starting to doubt those who tout it’s superiority.
I love this recipe, because it’s an easy way for me to use up leftover butternut squash. I also think you could easily use canned squash, but haven’t tried it yet. Be sure to use some parmesan, asiago, or some sort of aged hard cheese that has a lot of good flavour. I like the savory flavour that using stock brings, it helps cut down on the sweetness from the corn, which is especially needed when adding the squash.
Butternut Squash Polenta with Rosemary
- Start by steaming the butternut squash and onions. Fill a large pot with two inches of water, and bring to a boil. Fill a steaming basket with the cubed butternut squash, and roughly chopped onion. Cook covered until the squash can be easily pierced with a sharp paring knife, approximately 15 minutes.
- Add the steamed squash and onions to a processor or blender and puree until smooth.
- Pour the chicken stock into a medium-sized saucepan. Add the sprig of rosemary, and bring to a rapid boil. Remove the rosemary after a minute and discard it.
- While the stock is boiling, slowly pour in the polenta and stir continuously. Turn down the heat, and continue stirring the polenta for 5 minutes.
- Stir in the squash mixture, and continue stirring for two more minutes until everything is blended.
- Remove the polenta from heat, and toss in the butter and half of the shredded parmesan cheese. It'll immediately start to melt, stir to finish combining.
- Serve the polenta immediately with the remaining parmesan heaped on top, and drizzle with good quality olive oil. Garnish with fresh rosemary if that's your thing.