Being a northerner with not a speck of Italian heritage, my experience with corn grits has been pretty limited. Growing up, it (sadly) just wasn’t a food that was on my radar.
Since becoming gluten-free, however, that’s all changed. Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Corn Grits/Polenta has become my new best friend. My dear wife makes wonderful pizza crusts with it, and I’ve served it as both a cheesy side dish and as a pasta-replacement topped with pork ragú. This year for Thanksgiving, I wanted to try a polenta dressing in place of my usual cornbread recipe.
6 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 cups coarse-ground grits
16 ounces cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 cup milk
6 large eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion,chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
1 medium bell pepper, chopped
8 ounces Andouille sausage, chopped
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
1-2 tablespoons Louisiana-style hot sauce
Preheat your oven to 350°F and grease up a 4-quart Dutch oven.
In a large saucepan, bring the broth, salt, pepper, and Cajun seasoning to a boil. Whisk in the grits. Bring to a low boil, whisking frequently, then reduce the heat to low and simmer until the grits are thick, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
While the grits are cooking, heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, celery, bell pepper, and garlic and saute until the onion softens (about 5 minutes). Add the Andouille and cook until it is heated through and starts to give off some oil (about another 5 minutes). Remove the pan from the heat and let cool.
In a small bowl, whisk the eggs and milk together. In a large bowl, pour in the polenta and then stir in both the cheese and sausage mixture. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper, and hot sauce.
Gradually stir the egg mixture into the polenta, mixing until everything is combined. Pour the works into the Dutch oven.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the center is set and the edges are a bit brown.
While this was way too spicy for my relatives, my dear wife and I loved it – rich, creamy, crunchy, and spicy. I still miss my Mom’s gluteny stuffing, but this got me through Thanksgiving without feeling too deprived.