Creamy Pumpkin Polenta

I love the side dishes served for Thanksgiving better the turkey.

Creamy Pumpkin Polenta

Yep, I’m the one who piles on the stuffing, scoops up the sweet potatoes, and gets the greediest portion of green beans.  For me turkey is better the next day in sandwiches, casseroles, or chopped up and cooked into soups.  This is one meal where excess is truly acceptable, and when my family cooks Thanksgiving dinner we have at least 6 side dishes, sometimes 10 or 12!  This year I wanted to come up with something that included pumpkin in a savory side dish.  Growing up the only time we ate pumpkin was in either pie or quick bread form.  We never had pumpkin in a savory way.  I began eating savory pumpkin dishes a few years ago around the holidays and I just love them.  Pumpkin is mild, slightly sweet, and perfect for adding to all kinds of dishes.

Creamy Pumpkin Polenta

As Turkey Day side dishes go, this one is spectacular!  It is rich, creamy, hearty, and perfect served with roasted poultry.  I kept the spices subtle as not to overpower the mild pumpkin flavor, but you could add a few pinches of cinnamon or even cayenne pepper if you wanted for a little extra spicy intensity.  The key here is the cream cheese.  It adds a little tang to this dish as well as providing that ultra creamy finish on the palate.  The crisp bacon, used as a garnish, also adds a little texture.  I am a big fan of texture.  If you wanted you could use this as a vehicle for serving roast beef, chicken, or even left over turkey.  Heck, you could even eat this as a main dish all on its own.

Creamy Pumpkin Polenta   Serves 6 – 8

4 strips thick cut bacon, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup whole milk
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup quick cooking polenta (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons cream cheese

Creamy Pumpkin Polenta

In a medium sauce pan over medium heat cook the bacon until it is crisp.  Remove the bacon from the pan and do not drain the fat.

Creamy Pumpkin PolentaCreamy Pumpkin Polenta

Still over medium heat add the butter to the reserved bacon fat.  Once the butter melts and starts to foam add the onion and cook until softened, about 2 minutes.  Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, salt, and nutmeg and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.    Add the pumpkin puree and cook, stirring constantly, until slightly darker in color, about 3 minutes.

Creamy Pumpkin PolentaCreamy Pumpkin Polenta

Whisk in the milk and chicken broth and once it comes to a boil slowly whisk in the polenta.  Cook, stirring constantly, for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the polenta thickens.  If the polentas seems stiff add a little more milk. Reduce the heat to medium low.

Creamy Pumpkin Polenta

Stir in the shredded cheese and cream cheese until thoroughly melted.  Pour the polenta into a serving dish and garnish with the crisp bacon.  Serve hot.

Creamy Pumpkin Polenta


Creamy Pumpkin Polenta


© 2011, Evil Shenanigans. All rights reserved.

Author: Kelly

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  • Looks like a perfect Thanksgiving side dish.

  • I love the sides also – the more carbs the better! So I was immediately attracted to this – and then you add some crisp salty bacon – be still my heart.

  • I am also a side dish lover – not just on Thanksgiving either! Would you believe I’ve just discovered polenta? This recipe looks FANTASTIC. Bookmarking. Congrats again on the new book announcement!

  • Well it’s got bacon Kelly…of course it’s good! I’ve got some pumpkin I need to use; you know I’ve got bacon…hmm, thinking main course dinner tonight?

  • That looks so delicious. I love the bacon in there.

  • What a beautiful side dish! I love Thanksgiving for the side dishes, too. The more the merrier!

  • thanksgiving side dishes are what it’s all about…this looks like the perfect one to me!

  • Looks delish Kelly. I love polenta!! Great post.

  • I have to say that I love pumpkin in savory dishes – absolutely love it! And I love polenta, so the two together must be outrageous!! And add bacon to that? I love this – so unique among all the pumpkin recipes in the food blogosphere! I want to try this!

  • Who eats turkey on Thanksgiving?! Its so a side dish holiday! This polenta looks Ah Maz Ing! Such a great idea.

  • Very unique dish! A perfect seasonal spin on polenta. Bravo!

  • I’m also a big fan of texture – polenta often turns me off because it reminds me of Cream of Wheat too much 😉 This seems like it would be great with the quail we’re having for Thanksgiving.

  • Oh I love the idea of pumpkin polenta! This is a great new side dish to add to the thanksgiving line up.

  • Forget the turkey… I just want a big bowl of this for Thanksgiving. Love the idea of pumpkin polenta.

  • Sue

    I agree. This isn’t only for Thanksgiving. As you said, this would make a perfect meal all on its own. I always have lumping problems when I add the cornmeal to the liquid, so I do it the other way around and it works great. I love the addition of pumpkin.

  • oh yum! Amazing

  • Oooh… this looks wonderful!! I’m already thinking about all the things this would be good with… like a big spoon!!!

  • I’m in love. LOVE I tell you.

  • This sounds absolutely wonderful! I just made polenta last week – I need to remember to make it more often. Happy Thanksgiving to you, Kelly!

  • TG

    i skip the turkey altogether these days. this recipe is killer!

  • Just when I thought I was over the pumpkin recipes, here comes one more I just have to try.

  • I made this without the bacon or chicken stock. Just added pumpkin, cream and polenta. It was great. I’m bookmarking as I know this recipe will be a regular from now on. Thank you very much Kelly.

  • Pingback: Chipotle Lime Cranberry Sauce and Other Thanksgiving Ideas()

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