Polenta with Horseradish and Cheese {Polenta con Cren e Formaggio}

When you see a recipe here combining polenta and horseradish . . . . you may think I’m getting my cuisines mixed up. 

Most people  think of horseradish {rafano or cren} to be of Germanic importation . . . . but in  Fruili-Venezia Giulia it is a classic flavor. 

This pungent root was very popular in the cooking of ancient Rome . . . . especially with pork. 

While it isn’t terribly popular in most of Italy, in Trieste it’s a cardinal flavor  paired with ham baked in bread

{ Prosciutto in Crosta}  or on Trieste’s outstanding buffet of pork products. 

Barcolana in Trieste, Italy, annual sailboat race at allourway.com

Barcolana in Trieste, Italy
An annual sailboat race @ Trieste tourism

The fragrance of horseradish is hot and spicy . . . . you could say nostril-opening. . . . .

. . . . although the flavor can be quite addictive after you’ve tasted it several times.

When I came across a recipe combining grits and horseradish. . . .

. . . . in the Southern Farmers Market Cookbook . . . .

 . . . .I knew I had to make it. 

In my shrimp and grits recipe I write about the similarities between polenta and grits . . . .

. . . . I somehow knew that the pairing of the spicy horseradish and creamy polenta would be perfect. 

I was right.

Roasted Poblano Peppers at allourway.com

Roasted Poblano Peppers

The author of the cookbook is Holly Herrick . . . . a talented certified chef. . . . who enjoys shopping at local markets and using  fresh produce like the poblano peppers . . . . which kicks this dish to another taste level.

In her recipes she uses what is fresh for the season. . . . much like the Italians do. 

In this recipe I substituted the grits with polenta. . . .

. . . .but I certainly followed her suggestion to add the smoky heat of roasted poblano peppers . . . .

. . . .and  a sweet touch with red onions.

Polenta with  Hoseradish, Cheese and Roasted Poblano Peppers at allourway.com

Polenta with Horseradish, Cheese and Roasted Poblano Peppers

One of her tips in the book is  that by roasting any pepper you cut back on the pungency while stepping up on its sweetness.

I use the same method of making polenta that I do with grits. I mix the polenta with the cold liquid . . . .

. . . . I’ve never had the polenta or grits get lumpy. 

BBQ Chicken with Polenta with Horseradish and Cheese, Green Beans Almondine at allourway.com

BBQ Chicken, Polenta with Horseradish and Cheese, Green Beans Almondine

In this recipe all of the flavors combine to make a pleasing creamy polenta that compliments the  BBQ chicken and  green beans with almonds that I served. 

Polenta with Horseradish and Cheese
Polenta made with hot and spicy horseradish while the cheese makes it nice and creamy. The diced roasted poblano peppers add a smokey flavor.
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  1. 3 cups whole milk
  2. 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  3. 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  4. 3/4 cup polenta or coarsely ground yellow or white cornmeal
  5. 2 poblano peppers
  6. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  7. 1/2 large red onion, thinly sliced
  8. Salt and freshly ground pepper - q.b. ( quanto basta )
  9. 3/4 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
  10. 2 Tablespoons prepared horseradish
  1. Heat the flame grill to high. Place the peppers directly over the heat and cook, turning occasionally, until blistered and blackened on all surfaces, about 3-5 minutes for each exposed surface; set aside to cool. Once cooled, run the peppers under cool water and pull off the blackened skin, seeds, and stem and discard. Stack the roasted pepper flesh and cut into thin, 1/4-inch-wide, 2-inch-long-strips; set aside.
  2. Bring the polenta, milk, salt, and pepper to a boil in a medium saucepan. Whisk until it comes to a boil and then reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking, stirring frequently until it is thickened, about 40 to 45 minutes.
  3. In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium-low hear. Add the onion, salt, and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly browned, about 20 minutes.
  4. To finish, stir the cheese into the cooked polenta until melted. Gently fold in the horseradish, roasted pepper, and sauteed onions. Taste and adjust seasonings to your taste. Serve immediately or keep warm for up to 3 hours over a gently simmering water bath.
  1. You can roast the peppers under a hot broiler until they are blistered and blackened.
Adapted from Southern Farmers Market Cookbook by Holly Herrick
Adapted from Southern Farmers Market Cookbook by Holly Herrick
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