Polenta Dressing

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.

The Verdict: ★★★★½
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.

The Nutrition:

A Little Turkey Dinner

I hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving! We traveled to see family, so I had one of those rare meals where I got to be a guest. All I had to do was bring a side dish and carve the bird. It was a very relaxing trip. When we got back, my dear wife wanted just a little Thanksgiving dinner for the two of us, so I decided to try a boneless turkey breast.

1 (3-pound) boneless turkey breast (buy a prepared one, or ask your butcher to debone and net a fresh one)
1-2 tablespoons of your favorite barbecue rub (Tasty Licks Ribit Rub in this case)

I set the Big Green egg up for an indirect cook at 300°F using an inverted plate setter to diffuse the heat. While the grill was coming up to temp, I dusted the breast heavily on all sides with the barbecue rub.

When the grill was ready, I added a chunk of pecan wood for smoke, and when the smoke turned from white to blue, I loaded the breast on the grate.

I cooked the breast, turning every 30 minutes, until the internal temp hit 155°F – about 1 1/2 hours total. I moved it off to a cutting board and let it rest for 15 minutes before removing the netting and slicing.

I served the turkey up with some sautéed green beans  and the polenta dressing left over from our big family meal.

The Verdict: ★★★★½
Very tasty – the turkey picked up a lot of the flavor from the smoke and the rub and was nice and juicy. I’m thinking about doing up a couple more of these and then running them through the meat slicer for sandwiches. To keep the costs down, I’m probably going to have to learn to bone and net my own bird. This video shows how to do it with a leg of lamb, but same idea.

The Nutrition:
If we’re just talking about the green beans and the turkey, life is good – 3 ounces of skin-on turkey breast is only 2 Weight Watchers points and the green beans are (mostly) free. Dare not, however, try to figure out the points for the dressing. I did and it made the poor little points calculator cry. Definitely a dish for special occasions.

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