Baked Polenta is one of my newest food obsessions– it’s rich and warm, like having a whole meal of savory veggies & cornbread. This baked polenta recipe is heavy on Mexican flavors, because those are my favorite flavors to have with warm sweet corn; made with canned green chiles, carrots, onions, garlic and the deep corn flavor of polenta, this has a ton of flavor with just the right amount of spice.
Even though I love to make Baked Polenta with heavy Latine flavors, that is definitely a personal preference, and just shows my own style and what feels comforting to me. Polenta has a long history that originates in Italy, and it is traditionally made with ingredients such as mushrooms, red wine and thyme.
Baked Polenta is one of the least expensive dinners you can make– in Italian, it falls under a category of cuisine called ‘cucina povera’ (cuisine for the poor) because of how cheap it is to make in large batches. For this dinner, corn grits and veggies are all you need besides a few pantry essentials.
It’s rare that you can get away with spending just a few dollars and come out with a nutritious dinner, but cornmeal is high in complex carbs and antioxidants, hitting you with some hard-to-get nutrients– add in the carrots and beans, and you have a well-rounded meal with complex-carbs, protein, root vegetables, and no saturated fats or gluten.
As a Chef, it is really important to me to share recipes that are accessible to actual people; whether it’s creating recipes that are inexpensive, or creating recipes that are familiar or quick– I want everyone to feel that a cruelty-free diet is within their reach. This recipe hits all those marks, being a very easy and basic recipe, and also mega-cheap and accessible.
While Baked Polenta is traditionally European– and this recipe is a Mexican version– it reminds me of many of my own classic comfort foods, and has even become one. It reminds me of chili and cornbread with the best possible swap of proportions: a ton of warm cornbread filled with chiles & veggies, and topped with a heap of beans.
Baked Polenta could easily be a comfort food to anyone– it’s flat-out delicious. Cook this up tonight, and let me know how it goes!
Carrot + Green-Chile Baked Polenta
Polenta (Cornmeal) – 14 ounces
Vegetable Stock – 16 ounces
Carrots, cleaned – 3-4 indv.
Onions – 2 indv.
Green Chiles, canned – 2, 4oz cans
Garlic, cloves – 2 indv.
Vegetable Oil – 1 fl. oz.
Dry Red Cooking Wine (optional) – 1 fl. oz.
Salt – to taste
Black Pepper, ground – to taste
Black Beans, cooked – 2-3 cups, for serving
- Preheat oven to 375F
- Slice carrots into rounds about ¼ – ½” thick, and also small dice the onions, and set aside.
- Using a wide dutch oven, preheat a small amount of cooking oil on medium-high. Once heated, toss in the carrots, and allow to cook for a few minutes while stirring. Then, toss in your onions, and stir until tender.
- Quickly chop just a few cloves of garlic, and toss it in and stir until aromatic.
- Once all included ingredients are tender and slightly browned, splash in a bit of red cooking wine and stir until the wine reduces by half.
- Now, open up the canned green chiles and toss those in one at a time. With each batch, stir well until the chiles heat through and the mix begins to slightly simmer.
- Season to taste, and then slightly reduce heat and cook for about five minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Next, you’ll pour in the vegetable stock and bring to a boil, and then down to a simmer.
- Place the polenta into a container with a spout, so you can pour it slowly. Once ready, whisk the polenta into the simmering liquid slowly, and do not stop whisking or it will clump.
- Once the polenta is very thick (similar to porridge), cover and place in the oven.
- Cook for 45 minutes.
- Remove from the oven, and keep covered for five minutes before removing it and allowing the polenta to cool for just a few minutes.
- Serve hot, with beans or sauce of choice.
Thanks for reading!
~ Chef G.
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