Hello Friends! I’m thrilled to be sharing today’s post with you because it is a collaboration with Lagostina to give away one of their gorgeous Polenta and Minestrone Stewpots! Visit my Instagram for contest details; see product info below!
Cucina Povera translates literally to poor kitchen and in Italy it’s the term given to rustic, humble meals with modest ingredients that are inspiring in their simplicity. I grew up with similar meals in my childhood home. Meals my mother grew up with in Nicaragua. Simple recipes you can find in any country or reigon, worldwide. For Italians polenta is one of these “poor kitchen” meals.
When I received this stewpot I knew the first thing I made in it would have to be a polenta dish. It’s been cold out and finally feels like winter and in my house that means every meal is an opportunity for comfort food.
Polenta is one of one of my favorite dishes because it is the perfect vehicle for so many toppings. Ragu or Bolognese. Coq au vin or beef bourguignon. Roasted vegetables or braised short ribs. You can mix nearly anything into it and it can be served creamy or hardened then fried in butter.
Today’s recipe isn’t exactly simple or humble, but it could be. As I stirred the thick golden polenta infused at that point with only butter, sage, almond milk and a little orange zest I found myself tempted to sneak a bite of the unfinished product. But I wanted to use the cornmeal as a vehicle for all the wonderful fruit at my local farmer’s market—and I wanted to have a little fun with it.
When I sat down to plan this recipe I called my sister, as I often do, for an inspiring brainstorming session—and so we could just talk about food and how much we love it in general. When it came to polenta I was throwing out every recipe I could come up with…then there was a pause on the line. “What if you made a sweet polenta instead?” my sister suggested. The rest fell into place thereafter.
I immediately knew I wanted to use bourbon…because…well I use bourbon in everything. I thought I’d add in some rich mascarpone and almond milk for creaminess. Then I used tons of fresh sage and orange zest for a bright and fragrant flavor to offset the heaviness of the ingredients and I finished with some brown sugar for a subtle sweetness.
I drew inspiration for toppings from my local farmer’s market. Blackberries, citrus, cranberries, pomegranate—even some persimmons. I thought almonds would add a nice element of texture and opted to candy some blood oranges and cranberries for a wintry element.
With all the fresh fruit this could almost be a breakfast dish—albeit a very rich and decadent one. I envision this as a cozy dessert recipe for cold winter nights. I love the texture of polenta that has set a bit, but for a creamier option you can always increase your liquid to polenta ratio. For serving, you could also let the polenta set, slice it, fry it in a little butter and serve with the fruit on top like I did the following day.
The polenta itself is fragrant and flavorful with out competing too much with all the fruit. This recipe is perfect for the holidays and is a bit indulgent but warranted for 2016. How do you enjoy polenta? Leave a comment below!
This Lagostina Stewpot retails is stainless steel- and is specially designed to make polenta and minestrone—staples of Italian cuisine. It has a curved bottom to prevent sticking and flared sides for easy mixing and water absorption.
- Includes 5-qt. pot with lid – plus a wooden polenta stick and stainless-steel serving ladle.
- Made of polished 18/10 stainless steel with nonreactive stainless-steel interior and mirror-polish finish.
- LAGOPLAN® base combines five alternating layers of aluminum and stainless steel for rapid, even heating.
- Ergonomic cast stainless-steel handles provide a steady grip.
- Tight-fitting lid locks in heat and moisture; topped with a solid ash knob.
- Ideal for use on any cooktop, including induction.
- Made in Italy.
- For the Polenta
- 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1 Tbsp. minced sage
- Zest from one orange
- 6 cups almond milk
- ¼ cup bourbon
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- Pinch salt
- Pinch nutmeg
- 1 ½ cups polenta
- 6 oz. mascarpone
- Topping Ideas
- 6 oz. Blackberries
- 6 oz. Blueberries
- 2 Sliced persimmons
- 1 cup Pomegranate seeds
- 6 oz. Raspberries
- 1/2 cup almond slivers
- Candied Cranberries (recipe below)
- Candied Oranges (recipe below)
- Melt butter in Lagostina Stewpot over medium heat and add in orange zest and sage.
- Sauté for a few minutes then add in almond milk, bourbon, vanilla, sugar, salt, and nutmeg.
- Bring to a boil then add in polenta.
- Reduce heat and stir frequently. Polenta can pop and splatter so this is where the Lagostina polenta stick comes in handy!
- Cook polenta for about 30 minuets, until it’s very thick.
- Stir in mascarpone
- At this point you can either ladle into bowls and top with fruit or pour into a baking dish and allow it to set for frying later.
- To make Candied Cranberries
- Melt 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water in a sauce pan over medium heat.
- Add in ¾ cups cranberries and simmer on low for about 5 minutes.
- Sprinkle with more sugar and allow to dry on a baking rack until sugar sets.
- To make Candied Blood Oranges
- Bring a pot of water to a gentle boil and place citrus slices (from 2 small blood oranges) in for about 1-2 minutes to help remove bitterness.
- Drain and set aside.
- In a saucepan heat 3/4 cup sugar and 3/4 cup water until sugar dissolves.
- Add citrus slices in a single layer and simmer on low for about an hour or until rinds get translucent.
- Allow to dry and cool on a baking rack until sugar sets.
- The recipe was doubled for the photos pictured above.