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Creamy Garlic Polenta

Creamy garlic polenta with a little heat.

Virginia countryside

Last fall my daughter and I decided to take a day drive to the Blue Ridge Mountains to immerse our senses in the fall foliage.  We traveled along the scenic crestline highway of the Shenandoah National Park and hiked along the Appalachian Trail to a waterfall.   It was beautiful and refreshing.  Heading home, we drove through all the rural towns and villages in the Virginia countryside on the way back to Washington, DC. One of those towns is Washington, Virginia.

Creamy-Garlic-PolentaThis recipe is from Patrick O’Connell’s award winning restaurant, The Inn at Little Washington.  It is easy to make and is a perfect pair with sautéed pork chops and mushrooms.  As polentas go, this version is soft and creamy if you serve it warm.  If you chill it, the polenta sets up firm enough to cut and fry.  The cayenne pepper has a warm note of flavor in the background.  A nice break from potatoes or rice.

Recipe: Creamy Garlic Polenta

Prep Time: 5 Minutes | Cook Time: 15 Minutes | Yield: 4 servings | Level: Easy


  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp garlic, microplaned grated
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

1 In a medium pan over medium low heat place the butter, oil and garlic.  Sweat for about 2 minutes but don’t brown.

2 Add the cream, milk, water, pepper and bay then increase the heat to high.  Once it comes to a boil, simmer for 5 minutes.  Remove the bay leaf.

3 Bring back to boil.  Whisking constantly, pour the cornmeal into the boiling liquid in a thin stream.  Cook stirring constantly until the polenta begins to thicken.

4 Stir in the cheese and serve.

Polenta is a good side with pork roast or chops.  It also works well with chicken.

Dish Designer

  • Adjust the cayenne pepper, add more for additional heat, omit for mild dish.
  • Exchange heavy cream for Half and Half.

InspirationPatrick O’Connell, The Inn at Little Washington
Cook with Sauces
Written by
Photographs by Helen Horton
Updated: May 17, 2012

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3 Responses to Creamy Garlic Polenta

  1. healthy breakfast for kids November 3, 2011 at 7:50 pm #

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