Weather: 25 degrees, sunshine
What I’m listening to: Little Wonders, Rob Thomas

When I fly to California to visit family and friends, it often takes three planes, and at least two layovers. On my last trip, I landed at the Sacramento airport late in the day, eager to get settled and get some good food in my stomach. My sister and my niece picked me up at the airport and took back to their house, where there was braised chicken waiting in the oven and hot, creamy polenta waiting in the crockpot. I gotta tell you that that meal was just exactly the warm, comforting thing I needed after a long trip. And how amazing that the polenta was sitting there waiting for us when we walked in, sans all the standing over the stove and stirring that is usually required to achieve perfect, rich polenta. I told my sister that I had to have the recipe.

IMG_9874It wasn’t long after I got home from my trip that I tried the crockpot polenta method in my own kitchen. It totally works. Throw all the ingredients into a saucepan on the stove, bring it to a boil, transfer it to a crockpot, and cook it for two hours, stirring about once an hour. Just prior to serving, stir in some more butter and half and half to loosen to your desired texture, and serve. Parmesan cheese is optional at this stage, depending on what your entree is. This easier, lower-maintenance version of polenta would be perfect with my Balsamic Braised Beef Short Ribs or use it in lieu of pasta with my Chicken Cacciatore.

Creamy Crockpot Polenta

Rich and creamy polenta made in the crockpot. Adapted from my sister, Nadia, via [Melissa D’Arabian|http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/melissa-darabian/creamy-polenta-recipe.html].

Yields: 4-6 servings

  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 2/3 cup half and half, divided
  • 4 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 2/3 cup coarse polenta
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan (optional)

Turn a crockpot on high. Spray the inside of the crockpot with non-stick cooking spray.

To a medium saucepan, add the milk, 2 cups of the half and half, 2 tablespoons of the butter, and the polenta. Season with salt and pepper and bring the mixture to a boil, whisking constantly to prevent lumping. Once it boils for about 2 minutes, transfer it to the crockpot, cover, and let cook 2 hours, stirring once an hour. Just prior to serving, whisk in the remaining half and half and butter, and parmesan if using, until smooth and creamy. (More or less half and half can be added to achieve desired consistency). Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if needed. Serve promptly.

 

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