Creamy polenta casserole is fall's answer to how to put that beautiful abundance of fresh corn and all of its sweetness and flavor to good use—one creamy, buttery and hot spoonful at a time.
Sweet Corn and Creamy Grits Come Together For Creamy Polenta Casserole
In the warm summer months, there's little more delicious and natural to partake in than fresh corn on the cob, gloriously slathered in butter and salt, perfectly crisp and sweet to bite into. It was one of my favorite summer treats as child, and it's still one of my favorites as an adult.
Naturally sweet corn is the kind of simple pleasure I adore and am so grateful for, one that brings a smile to my lips and causes a little sigh as well.
The beauty of corn is that it is around well beyond just the hot summer months, it's abundance lasting deep into the fall, into that golden time of year when the weather cools and the holidays come around and beckon for cozy dishes to be prepared, such as corn bread casserole, golden autumn corn dressing, sweet corn bread cake, or even a kicky “little taste of heaven” corn bread.
And fresh corn kernels cut from the cob are a delicious and crisp-under-tooth addition to hot, creamy, and buttery polenta cooked until tender, then combined with a touch of white cheddar and a couple of eggs, and poured into a casserole dish and baked until lightly puffed and golden.
The decadent result is a light, spoonable, warm and cozy creamy polenta casserole that stands deliciously on its own, or as a tasty accompaniment to other dishes on your table—ideal as an offering to the holiday spread as well!
Tips & Tidbits for Creamy Polenta Casserole:
- Use traditional corn grits, not quick-cooking: I like to use good quality, organic corn grits (Bob's Red Mill are my favorite) with a bit of texture—make sure you're not using the quick-cooking variety of grits.
- Chicken stock is best, but you can use water or even veggie stock: Cooking your grits in chicken stock provides the most flavor, but you can certainly use water with a couple of pinches of salt, if you prefer. You can also sub vegetable stock for a vegetarian option.
- Fresh kernels are the pick for this, but frozen will work too: I prefer to use fresh corn and cut the kernels right from the cob, as that's the sweetest choice, and has a bit of crunch; however, if you choose to use frozen, just use about 1 ¾ cups of kernels, and allow them to totally defrost so you can blot them of excess water—you don't want extra water as it will potentially make the casserole more liquidy.
- Choose you cheese: Sharp white cheddar is delicious, savory and tangy, in this recipe, but feel free to use your favorite type of cheese, as long as it melts easily.
Feast your eyes on these, or just jump to the recipe:
Creamy Polenta Casserole with Sharp White Cheddar
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Serves 6
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour 30 minutes
• 4 cups chicken stock
• 1 cup corn grits
• 1 ¾ -2 cups fresh corn kernels cut from cobs (about 4 cobs) and blotted dry
• 1 clove garlic, pressed through garlic press
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 2 eggs, room temp
• 1 ½ cups grated sharp white cheddar cheese, divided use
• Chives, fresh thyme leaves, or chopped parsley for garnish
-To prepare your grits, add the chicken stock to a medium size pot, and bring it to a strong simmer/boil; then, slowly sprinkle in the corn grits, whisking all the while, and allow the mixture to slightly thicken.
-Reduce heat to low and gently cook the grits until soft, creamy and thickened, about 45 minutes, stirring/whisking occasionally to prevent them from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
-During the last 15 minutes of cooking, preheat your oven to 350°, and lightly mist a medium size casserole dish with cooking spray.
-Once the polenta is cooked and tender, allow it to slightly cool and slightly thicken for about 15 minutes; then, add in the corn kernels, the garlic, and the butter, and whisk to combine; add in the eggs and 1 cup of the cheese, and whisk to blend; pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish, top with the remaining ½ cup of cheese, and bake for 45-50 minutes until golden on top; allow the casserole to set/cool slightly for about 20-30 minutes before serving (the inside will be very hot!); enjoy on its own, or with sauteed greens and chicken or turkey, or mushrooms, etc.