Instead of serving mashed potatoes at your holiday meal, why not try polenta? They are a creamy and delicious accompaniment to ham, turkey, roast beef or roast vegetables. The two different ways I make it, are much easier and less hands on than mashed potatoes. I make them in the slow cooker, using this recipe from About.com and it comes out perfect, every single time. It takes about 2-3 hours in the slow cooker, but is basically completely hands off.
Most often I make polenta by taking a huge shortcut, buying the already made tubes at Trader Joe’s. Here is my recipe to transform those tubes into an amazingly smooth and cheesy polenta.
2-18 ounce tubes of Trader Joe’s Polenta
3 Tablespoons of butter
1 cup of milk (I use either 2% or whole)
1/4 cup of mascarpone or cream cheese
3 sprigs of fresh thyme, chopped – optional
Take the polenta out of the tube and dice. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add butter and the diced polenta. Cover for about 2 minutes, then stir. Cook covered for another 3-6 minutes until the polenta is soft. Use a potato masher and mash the polenta. Add milk, mascarpone and herbs if using them. Mash everything together and stir until smooth. You can then keep it warm in your crock pot or if you have a warming burner, you can put it there covered and serve within an hour or so.
You can use this polenta as part of an easy meal this week. I like to serve it with sausage and peppers.
Keep your menu simple and hopefully you will have a less stressful holiday!
Here are some other holiday side dish ideas: