Hands-on Time
13 Mins
Total Time
13 Mins
Serves 8 (serving size: 1/2 cup polenta, 2 sage leaves, and about 1 1/4 teaspoons butter)

As a stand-alone 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.

How to Make It

Step 1

Pierce 10 holes on one side of the bottom of a 13 x 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.

Step 2

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.

Step 3

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.

Chef's Notes

Executive Editor at Cooking Light, Ann Pittman, explores whole grain's all-around awesomeness in her new book, Everyday Whole Grains: 175 Recipes from Amaranth to Wild Rice. This complete guide to healthy, hearty, and incredibly versatile whole grains includes something for everyone and offers innovative new techniques to ensure the most flavorful results. From simple, delicious sides to satisfying mains and sublime desserts, this James Beard Award-winning author educates, inspires and does not disappoint. Discover a whole new way of looking at whole grains, how they are prepared, and how they can be incorporated into a healthy diet at every meal.

Also appeared in: Oxmoor House, March, 2016,Everyday Whole Grains: 175 Recipes from Amaranth to Wild Rice