This Cheesy Polenta is a savory, delicious side dish that is gluten free and perfect for the holidays or anytime of year!
I love this creamy Cheesy Polenta as a decadent side dish for the holiday table. It pairs with nearly everything and while I think there can never be too many sides it serves a great substitute for mashed potatoes or mac ‘n cheese. But it also goes alongside them as well! This recipe also works great for meals at home, just reduce the servings size and pair with a veggie and protein for a delicious meal.
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I took a ginormous double batch of this recipe to a Friendsgiving feast over the weekend! Our friends that were hosting are gluten free so this polenta side was perfect. Polenta is a ground yellow corn meal. It’s very close to American southern grits, which are made of white corn, and is often found in Italian cuisine.
I uses two different types of cheeses in this recipe. I wanted a nostalgic and creamy flavor so I used medium yellow cheddar and American cheese. The yellow cheddar adds a nice flavor while the American cheese melts into an ooey-gooey-ness that makes for those craveable cheesy dishes. I suggest buying the cheese in a block and grating yourself. Pre-shredded cheeses are tossed in powder coatings to prevent them from caking together in the package, this can result in the cheeses not melting properly in the dish. If you do go for pre-shredded, my go to is Tillamook. I find that it melts the best of all the pre-shredded brands.
This is a great base recipe if you’re feeling creative! Add seasoning like garlic or rosemary. Swap out cheeses for parmesan or Havarti. Add some sour cream or whole milk for extra creaminess.
Polenta continues to “set up” or coagulate as it cools. While cooking it may seem very liquid-y. That’s ok. Polentas can be serve softer or more cooked. I personally like them somewhere in between. If your polenta is too loose, cook for 5 additional minutes then let it cool a bit and see if comes together. If it’s too dense, add more liquid.
It’s important to stir the polenta often while cooking so that it won’t stick to the bottom of the pot. Be sure to scrape all around the bottom and sides every few minutes.
Hope y’all enjoy this one as much as I do!
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- 2 cups polenta
- 8 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup american cheese shredded
- 1 cup cheddar cheese shredded
- 1 tsp kosher salt plus more to taste
- 1 tsp black pepper plus more to taste
- In a large pot, bring chicken broth to a boil then stir in polenta. Keeping stirring, scrapping along the bottom and breaking up any bits. Reduce to rolling simmer and let cook for about 40-45 minutes, stirring and scraping bottom and sides of pot every 5-10 minutes to prevent sticking.
- Taste the polenta, it should have a slightly gritty texture but be soft and not have a raw taste. Add shredded cheese one cup at a time, stirring until melted. Add salt and pepper and stir again. Taste again and add more seasoning if needed.
- Serve polenta warm and topped with extra cheese. As polenta cools, it will begin to set. Reheat and stir in a tablespoon of water at a time as needed until desired consistency is reached.