Polenta is one of those hearty comforts – warm, soft, and so buttery – that even us non-Italians love. For me, I love the texture. It’s like a cozy blanket on a cold day. To add a little bit of substance to my polenta with finely chopped broccoli and a ton of pecorino. This is a delicious side with roast chicken or salmon, but it’s also wonderful by itself with a poached egg on top. Enjoy!
For 2 to 4
1 pound broccoli (one big stalk)
1 3/4 cups milk
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup coarse ground grits
I used Bob’s Red Mill Grits. Cornmeal or polenta will also work
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
handful of freshly grated pecorino cheese, plus more for serving
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat. Cut across the broccoli to separate the crown of florets from the stalk. With a vegetable peeler, peel the stalks, removing the thick, tough skin.
Add the stalks to the boiling water and cook for 2 minutes. Then add the florets and cook for an additional 3 minutes. Drain the florets and stalks to a sieve or colander, reserving a cup of water from the pot, and run the broccoli under cold running water to stop the cooking. Drain well. Chop the florets and stalks roughly.
Combine the 1 cup of the water used to cook the broccoli, the milk, garlic, and chicken broth in a medium pot. Bring to a simmer over high heat. Add the polenta gradually, whisking constantly. When the mixture starts to boil rapidly, reduce the heat to a medium low, steady but not too vigorous bubble and switch to a wooden spoon. Cook, stirring often, for 10 minutes, then stir in the chopped broccoli florets and stalks. Continue cooking, stirring often and scraping the sides of the pan with a heatproof rubber spatula, until the polenta is no longer grainy and the broccoli florets are super tender, about 10 minutes longer. Stir in the butter and pecorino. Season with salt and pepper.
Pour the polenta out onto a large serving platter, or individual bowls. Drizzle the surface with olive oil and shower it with more pecorino. Serve warm.