Smoked tomato pimento cheese polenta. I think I’ve whispered those words 20 days since I made this dish, smiling and remembering. Without a doubt, this was one of the best tasting sides I’ve ever had. Just a hint of smokiness from the smoked tomatoes and tons of cheesy creaminess. And polenta, my favorite thing no matter what it is mixed with. This makes a big huge batch of polenta, but you’ll find you won’t have any trouble making it disappear. This is a fantastic recipe, one we’ll be making time and time again.
I like my polenta very creamy and a little on the thin side. As opposed to thick and dense. You can cook your smoked tomato pimento cheese polenta a little longer than I did if you want yours thicker. If you get it too thick, stir in a bit more cream to thin it. When reheating polenta I stir in a bit more cream to get it back to it’s original wonderfully creamy state.
Also try my smoked grits.
Smoked Tomato Pimento Cheese Polenta
Servings 12 servings
- 4 large tomatoes
- 8 cups chicken stock
- 3 cups stone ground grits or polenta
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 3 cups pimento cheese I used our Easy Pimento Cheese recipe
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Fire up your smoker for 250 F. Use a light fruit wood such as apple or peach.
Use a knife to cut a small slit in the bottom of each tomato and place on the smoker, step side down.
Smoke for 1 hour or until tender. Remove and let cool.
Rough chop the tomatoes, removing any hard pieces or stems, and place into a blender or food processor and puree. Add to a large pot over medium high heat.
Stir in the broth and bring to a boil.
Stir in the polenta. Reduce heat to a simmer and keep stirring until the liquid has boiled away.
Stir in the cream and pimento cheese. Keep stirring until the cheese has melted.
Season with salt and pepper and let simmer until the polenta reaches the desired thickness.
As much as I love making and devouring mashed potatoes with pot roast and gravy, I love grits even more. The creamy ground corn has more texture and more flavor. At least, in my opinion. Add some cheese (and a little bit of Ranch dressing mix) and well, these cheddar Ranch grits are the perfect tasting side dish and very, very easy to make.
You can substitute any good melting cheese you want to these cheddar Ranch grits. I like a nice sharp cheddar because I think it goes perfectly with the corn flavors and the Ranch dressing. I think Monterey jack would also work well in this dish. For some kick, go with pepperjack and add a few chopped roasted jalapenos.
Also try my roasted sweet corn grits.
Cheddar Ranch Grits
Servings 4 servings
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 cup corn grits not instant or quick cook
- 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup or more, if you want shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 tablespoon Ranch dressing mix the dry stuff, not the dressing in a bottle!
Bring broth and salt to a boil in a medium pan over high heat.
Slowly stir in the grits.
Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, stirring often. To prevent the grits from splattering you can place a lid over the top of the pan but do not cover it completely.
Add the butter and stir to melt.
Add the cheese and Ranch dressing mix and stir until the cheese is melted.
Some folks don’t really care for polenta. I think it is one of the best (and easiest) things to make. What’s not to like about great corn flavor, with cheese and butter? This hot Italian sausage with fresh corn polenta dish has a great combination of creamy corn smoothness and the heat and juiciness of sausages.
So is there a difference between polenta and grits? Apparently, yes, but there are lots of thoughts on the subject. I usually use cornmeal, and for dishes like this one, I prefer a coarser variety when I can find it.
Grilled shrimp would work great in this too.
Also try my fresh pasta with grilled sausage and mushrooms.
Hot Italian Sausage with Fresh Corn Polenta
- Kosher salt
- 2 cups yellow stone-ground cornmeal
- 3 cups fresh corn kernels about 2 cans if you don't have fresh on hand
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese plus more for shaving
- 12 links fresh hot Italian sausage
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped
Bring 7 cups of water to boil in a large pot. Add salt.
While whisking the water, slowly pour in the cornmeal. Keep whisking until the mixture begins to thicken, about 3-4 minutes.
Reduce the heat to medium low and let the cornmeal cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes. If the mixture gets too thick, add just a bit of hot water, stir, and add more water in small quantities if needed.
Add in the fresh corn and stir. Continue cooking until the cornmeal is smooth and no longer gritty, 10-15 more minutes.
Add the butter and cheese and stir. Add more salt to taste if desired.
Grill sausages until done.
Let rest 5 minutes then cut into thirds.
Spoon cornmeal onto plates and top with the sausages. Garnish with parsley and a few cheese shavings and serve.
These little corn meal disks are very addicting. You get the flavor of grilled corn combined with the sweetness of butter. I could eat these all day long. Polenta is easy to keep on hand. Just cut off a few pieces next time you’re grilling, and in minutes you’ll be enjoying them too!
I use pre-cooked polenta (found in a tube in the Italian section of the grocery store). You can make your own from scratch, but it’s a lot more work and will tend to fall apart on the grill.
Grilled polenta is also great topped with my spicy roasted red pepper sauce.
Servings 4 -6
- One tube polenta cut into 1/2" thick coins.
- Olive oil
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
Heat a grill to high.
Brush both sides of the polenta "pucks" with oil. Place onto grill and grill 2-3 minutes. Rotate 90 degrees and cook another 2-3 minutes.
Flip. Brush with butter and grill another 3-4 minutes.
Sprinkle with salt, to taste, and serve.