You know you’re supposed to be ditching refined flour and embracing whole grains, so why not make it easy on yourself and follow along with Ann Taylor Pittman, the James Beard Award–winning executive editor of Cooking Light? Her new cookbook is a treasure trove of whole and ancient grain preparations, from the familiar to the exotic. Take a peek into the wide world of these nutrient- and fiber-packed ingredients and turn over a healthy new leaf.
As a standalone side dish, this creamy polenta has a hint of smokiness that makes it truly memorable. It can also serve as an excellent beginning to something more wonderful: I would serve braised short ribs or oxtail ragu over it, and then die of joy.
- 1/3 cup apple or cherry wood chips
- 5 ounces whole-grain cornmeal (about 1 cup)
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups 1 percent low-fat milk
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 16 small sage leaves
For the polenta
Pierce 10 holes on one side of the bottom of a 13-by-9-inch heavy-duty disposable aluminum foil pan. Arrange wood chips over holes inside pan. Spread cornmeal onto far opposite side of pan. Place hole side of pan over stovetop burner. Turn burner on high. When wood chips start to smoke, carefully cover pan with foil. Reduce heat to low; cook 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat; uncover pan, reserving foil. Carefully remove wood chips with tongs; place on foil. Wipe any wood fragments out with a damp paper towel. Pour cornmeal into a bowl.
Bring 2 cups water, milk and salt to a boil in a large saucepan. Gradually add cornmeal, stirring constantly with a whisk. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes or until thick, stirring frequently. Cover and keep warm.
Place butter and sage in a small skillet over medium heat; cook 3 minutes or until sage crisps and butter turns brown and smells very toasty-fragrant. Spoon polenta into each of 8 bowls; top each serving with sage leaves and butter.