The recipe called for instant polenta but to avoid a grocery run on a stormy day, I made polenta from scratch for the first time! What a breeze. Just cornmeal and water and salt -- and a wooden spoon, for stirring. I checked several techniques, then decided to follow one that took a little longer but required less hands-on time, just a good stir every five minutes. I claim no expertise in polenta but this polenta was easy -easy to make and tasted great.
RECIPE for WINTER SQUASH POLENTA
Time to table: sorry, this one too
Makes about 4 cups
2 - 3 pounds winter squash, washed (I used a small butternut and a medium buttercup)
Salt & pepper
Set oven to 400F. Carefully (so not to lose a finger) cut the squash in half either lengthwise or crosswise. Scoop out the seeds and discard. Rub olive oil on the flesh, season with salt and pepper, then place cut-side down on a baking sheet. Place in the oven, even if not fully preheated. Roast until a knife easily inserts into the thickest part of the flesh, about an hour. (If the squash halves are of different thicknesses and varieties and moisture levels, they will likely finish at different times. I set a timer for 30 minutes, then check every 5 - 10 minutes until all the pieces are done. If the squash exudes a lot of liquid, pour it off otherwise it will scorch.) Let cool a bit. Scoop out the flesh and mash with a potato masher or a fork. I used about 3 cups cooked squash, more would be fine, less would make this very much a "starch" versus a "vegetable".
MAKE THE POLENTA & ASSEMBLE
2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup coarse stone-ground cornmeal (I love the Bob's variety, often kept with the specialty bread flours)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 ounces fresh Parmesan, grated with ribbon microplane (for larger pieces), some reserved
Salt & pepper
Bring the water to a boil in a medium non-stick saucepan on MEDIUM. Stir in the salt. Slowly stir in the cornmeal with a whisk. Reduce heat to MEDIUM LOW, cover and set timer for 5 minutes. When timer goes off, check to see if it's cooking at a slow simmer, adjust heat accordingly and whisk gently for a minute. Repeat every 5 minutes, adjusting temperature and whisking. When it thickens, uncover and stir for 2 - 3 minutes. Stir in the butter and (most of the) Parmesan and stir til melted and glossy. Stir in the cooked squash and combine well. Taste and adjust seasonings. Transfer to a greased baking dish. [If you're cooking ahead, stop here and refrigerate. Return to room temperature.] Top with reserved Parmesan. Bake at 350F for 60 minutes.
TO PREP AHEAD
TWO OR THREE DAYS BEFORE Roast the squash.
DAY BEFORE Cook the polenta and assemble the dish, then refrigerate.
DAY OF Return to room temperature before baking.
LEFTOVERS To reheat leftovers, just warm in a saucepan.
a long-time family favorite
~ Squash Puff ~
squash with some spike
~ Curried Squash ~
for small gatherings
~ Acorn Squash with Quinoa & Cherries ~
~ Thanksgiving vegetable recipes ~