From My Kitchen: White Cheddar Polenta with Andouille

Every year my mother-in-law and husband put their heads together to come up with fun Christmas presents to give us. Last year we got a weekend getaway to Lake Geneva that included a cooking class. This year she really outdid herself and bought us a wine and Shrimp and Cheddar Polentadinner pairing at Cooper’s Hawk and a gift card for a farm-to-fork dinner pairing at Heritage Prairie Farm. We have not yet used the gift card for Heritage Prairie Farm but last week we went to the Bayou Soiree (dinner pairing) at Cooper’s Hawk and that is what inspired this recipe.

While we were enjoying the four course dinner my husband said that the main course was his favorite meal. I figured why not try to duplicate the dish by just looking at the ingredients. We were very happy with the results!

What You Need: 1 Andouille Link, 1 package of Pancetta ( I found this in the Jewel deli), 1 c Polenta, 1 1/2 c Shredded White Cheddar Cheese, 1 c Water, Salt, Fresh Ground Pepper, 3 T Butter, 1 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1) Start by cooking the Andouille link and then the pancetta until crispy. I cut both meats into bite-size pieces and then set aside.
2) In a medium saucepan bring the milk and water to a boil. Make sure to constantly stir the liquids so the milk does not burn.
3) As soon as the liquids come to a boil turn the heat down and add the polenta, a dash of salt and a dash of pepper. Every polenta recipe calls for a different way to handle it while it cooks but I recommend stirring it the whole time. This will make sure that it does not clump up. If it does clump up then just add a 1/4 c water.
4) Cook the polenta for 15 minutes.
5) Add the cheese, butter and olive oil. Remove from the heat as soon as you have everything mixed in.
6) Mix in the bite-size pieces.
7) Enjoy!

This dish can be served as a side or as main dish. When we tried this we added spicy shrimp on top. This is super easy to make. Saute shrimp with Cumin, Chili Powder and a little Cayenne.

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