Side: Creamy Popcorn Polenta with Smoked Cheddar and Caramelized Onions

There’s a certain grittiness to popcorn polenta that’s hard to find in standard varieties, and the textural element it provides is outstanding. Cooked polenta will form into whatever shape it’s cooled in, so place your leftovers in a square baking dish to cut into squares and grill the next day.

Serves | 8 |

Caramelized Onions

  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3 to 4 medium yellow onions, skin removed, ends trimmed and sliced from root to stem
  • water (to deglaze pan)
  • sea salt

Popcorn Polenta

  • 4½ cups water
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup McKaskle Family Farm popcorn polenta
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 6 oz high-quality smoked Cheddar, coarsely grated
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

| Preparation – Caramelized Onions | In an 11-inch stainless steel pan, heat butter over medium heat until melted. Add onions; stir to coat. Allow to cook over medium heat, stirring every 8 to 10 minutes. Use a wooden spoon to scrape the fond from the bottom of the pan, and deglaze with water as needed. Cook for 50 to 65 minutes, until desired caramelization has been achieved. Season to taste and set aside.

| Preparation – Popcorn Polenta | Add water and salt to a 3-quart pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stream in the polenta slowly, whisking as you go, and continue whisking until polenta has softened and expanded and remains suspended in the water. Turn heat to low, cover and allow to cook for 30 minutes, thoroughly stirring every 10 minutes and paying special attention to the bottom and sides of the pot. Once polenta has reached desired consistency, add butter and cheese and stir until melted into polenta. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Divide polenta onto plates and top with warm caramelized onions. Serve immediately.

Shannon Weber is the creator, author and photographer behind the award-winning blogaperiodictableblog.com, and her work has appeared on websites such as Bon Appétit, Serious Eats and America’s Test Kitchen.