I had my first taste of fall on the drive home from work this evening and it was delightful. While the temperatures are still summer-like, the rest of nature is easing its’ way into autumn. The light in the afternoon is softer and more golden. A few overly ambitious trees have already started to make the change from green to vibrant yellow, and a few overly ambitious neighbors have already put their mums and pumpkins out on the front porch (slow down and let me catch up, guys!) All we need now are cool temperatures and oversized scarves.
Nothing drives home the feel of fall like creamy, cheesy comfort food. If the comfort food in question combines cheese AND carbs, I’m even happier. And if wine is involved- I’m in heaven! Wine, cheese and carbs form the holy trinity in my kitchen. Which means that served with a glass of wine, this brown butter parmesan polenta is ideal autumn comfort food. Polenta is sometimes overlooked as a side dish for more common carbs like pasta and potatoes. But when treated with a little TLC it is more than deserving of a spot on your table. Like pasta and potatoes, it is super versatile and can work with whatever flavor profile you’re aiming for. In this case we’re dressing up creamy, mild polenta with rich and nutty brown butter. Earthy sage and salty parmesan cheese round out the perfect fall side. The end result is creamy, warm and divine, like a soft checkered blanket wrapped around your shoulders. Excuse me while I have a moment.
This brown butter parmesan polenta makes a perfect side to a fall staple like Quick Pork Chops with Apples and Sage Cream Sauce. Or you could easily turn it into a main course on its’ own with the addition of sautéed shrimp or grilled chicken. If you wind up with leftovers, be warned that the polenta will solidify once refrigerated. Don’t sweat it. Turn it into a new dish by warming it in a skillet until the exterior is browned and top it with sautéed greens and a fried egg.
I hope you enjoy this one! What are your favorite fall comfort foods?
Brown Butter Parmesan Polenta
- 1 cup milk
- 2-3 cups water
- 1 cup medium or coarse grind cornmeal (Bob’s Red Mill sells cornmeal packaged as polenta, but medium to coarsely ground cornmeal is fine)
- 6 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 Tbsp chopped fresh sage
- ½ cup parmesan cheese
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
In medium saucepan, bring milk and 2 cups water to a boil. Add 1 tsp salt. Reduce heat to a simmer, then add cornmeal, whisking as you add it. Continue whisking until no lumps remain. Allow cornmeal to come to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cook the cornmeal 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently, until creamy. You may need to add additional water to stop the cornmeal from getting too dry. Add about ½ cup at a time as needed.
While cornmeal is cooking, prepare brown butter. In small saucepan, heat butter over medium heat. Once butter starts to foam, add sage. Continue to cook butter and sage until the butter starts to brown. Then remove pan from heat and transfer butter and sage to a bowl to stop cooking.
When polenta is finished cooking, add ¾ of the butter and parmesan to the polenta. Stir to combine. Add remaining 1 tsp kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Transfer polenta to serving bowl, and top with remaining brown butter and parmesan.