The flavors in this bacon polenta are out of this world! Topped with sautéed mushrooms, this is the ultimate side dish.
Bacon. Rarely do you come across a word that has the ability to grab so many people's attention with a single utterance. As soon as the marbled strip of meat is laid in the pan, it begins to emit sounds similar to a miniature fireworks display. I am one who likes my bacon crispy. Flaccid is not a word that should ever be used to describe this breakfast treat. If I was a man named William, living in a small English town at the time of Queen Elizabeth I, I might be prone to writing pages of prose. Love sonnets, in fact...to bacon. As I am neither an English man nor much of a poet, I will have to stick to limericks or haikus. I have not actually written my little ditty yet, but I am certain the words "divine" and "swine" will somehow be included. I will spare you the rest.
My point is that bacon can make almost anything taste good. Now, polenta does not actually need any help in the taste category, but it seems logical that it can only be improved with the addition of a little fried pork. Polenta is made by slowly cooking cornmeal with a liquid, such as vegetable or chicken broth. Typically, the coarse cornmeal is used to make this dish, but if you are unable to find that, substitute regular yellow cornmeal and cut the cooking time in half.
In this recipe, crimini mushrooms are thinly sliced and sauteed with fresh thyme. This mixture tops the bacon-laden polenta, which should be served immediately. I typically serve it as a side dish, but today it made a very satisfying lunch.
How to make bacon polenta:
Chop about 4 ounces of bacon to total ½ cup. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and saute the bacon until crisp, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon from the skillet and place on a plate lined with paper towel. Pour out bacon drippings, leaving just 2 tablespoons dripping in the skillet.
Add 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots and saute until just starting to turn brown, about 2 minutes. Add 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth, raise heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium and slowly whisk in 1 cup polenta (coarse cornmeal). Cook, stirring frequently, until the polenta is soft and thick, about 15 to 20 minutes.
While the polenta is cooking, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in another large skillet set over medium heat. Add 12 ounces sliced crimini mushrooms. Cook until mushrooms are tender and just starting to brown. Stir in 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme. Remove from heat. Season with freshly ground black pepper and lightly with salt (remember, there will be salt in the polenta from the bacon and the chicken broth).
Just before serving, stir the reserved bacon and ½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese into the polenta. Divide the mixture across 6 plates (I typically serve this as a side) and top the polenta servings with even amounts of the mushroom mixture. Serve immediately.
Other polenta recipes:
Garlic Shrimp & Polenta Stacks w/Brown Butter Sauce
Eggplant & White Wine Polenta Stacks with Fresh Basil Sauce
Bacon Polenta with Sautéed Mushrooms
- ½ cup chopped bacon (about 4 ounces)
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
- 6 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup polenta (coarse cornmeal)
- 1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 12 ounces crimini mushrooms sliced
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
- Salt & pepper to taste
- ½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat and sauté the bacon until crisp, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon from the skillet and place on a plate lined with paper towel. Pour out bacon drippings, leaving just 2 tablespoons dripping in the skillet.
- Add shallots and saute until just starting to turn brown, about 2 minutes. Add chicken broth, raise heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil.
- Lower heat to medium and slowly whisk in polenta. Cook, stirring frequently, until the polenta is soft and thick, about 15 to 20 minutes.
- While the polenta is cooking, heat olive oil in another large skillet set over medium heat. Add crimini mushrooms. Cook until mushrooms are tender and just starting to brown. Stir in fresh thyme. Remove from heat. Season with freshly ground black pepper and lightly with salt (remember, there will be salt in the polenta from the bacon and the chicken broth).
- Just before serving, stir the reserved bacon and Parmesan cheese into the polenta. Divide the mixture across 6 plates (I typically serve this as a side) and top the polenta servings with even amounts of the mushroom mixture. Serve immediately.
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Yummy, beautiful pictures of a delicious looking polenta dish:)
I wanted to print the recipe but the link wasn't there. I'll try later, thanks
This looks like a perfect dish for Fall! What a nice combination of flavors.
Yum! Everything that you said about bacon is so true. What an amazingly delicious way to jazz up polenta!
Shaina (Food for My Family)
My husband was just dreaming of making polenta this weekend. The bacon looks incredible here!
It's so true about bacon. Bacon bacon bacon...they say, that's why Kevin Bacon is so popular!
My goodness this looks fabulous! I have a birthday dinner to prepare for this Sunday and I think I have a big part of it right here. It does sound irresistable.
You are right, you caught me with the word bacon! What a fabulous twist on polenta. I can't imagine anyone not licking their plate!
This is beautiful!!
Jeanne @ CookSister!
Oh...! You had me at hello 🙂 LOVE polenta and added to mushrooms and bacon it is totally irresistable. Beautiful photos too!
I'm really liking this post since we have polenta and bacon at home.. now I just have to get Mountain Man to the grocery store for mushrooms!
Dara, you're funny! Loved reading this. Maybe it's because I feel exactly the same about bacon. This polenta dish is gorgeous and so fit for company. Well done...again!
YUM YUM AND YUM!!!!! And the photos are delicious too. I always have trouble photographing mushrooms - you do not seem to have similar issues!
I love this combination of flavors and textures! Yum!
Oh Dara, this one is calling me, maybe because it is similar to a favorite of mine, spicy Creole Couche Couche that is loaded with bacon ... love the mushrooms, great side dish
Rachel (Two Healthy Plates)
I have to confess that I've never made polenta - I just bought some over the weekend and I'm ready to give it a try! This recipe couldn't have come at a more perfect time!
Lisa@Pickles and Cheese
Mmmm...this looks so delicious. I have never made polenta before but this is so tempting. I have to give this one a try! Thanks!
I am always looking for new ways to prepare polenta, this one looks perfect for the fall coming up...very nicely done!
This takes polenta to new heights Dara!