Due to my Southern heritage, I instinctively make either corn bread or biscuits whenever I have red beans & rice, or any other Southern dishes for that matter. Those are just staples that go with every meal in the South. When making the same things over and over, sometimes it is easy to get into a rut though. Don’t get me wrong though, I love both cornbread and biscuits, but I also love to try new ideas as well. I love to shake things up and make old recipes new again. My husband said he wanted red beans & rice along with our Linguisa sausage for dinner. No problem; easy-peasy. This is a pretty typical Southern meal, and we eat it quite often. This time though, instead of falling back to my old stand byes, I found a new recipe I tried that complimented the meal very nicely. Corn meal, as it is known in the South, is known as masa in Latin America and polenta in Italy and the rest of Europe. So in essence, one man’s polenta is another man’s cornbread. I made a polenta loaf, or a cornbread loaf, with caramelized onions and herbs. I served it with honey butter, but you can also serve it with creme fraiche as well, if you prefer things a bit more tangy rather than sweet. If you choose to use creme fraiche, drizzle a little extra olive oil and add some cracked pepper to the topping as well. In one word – DELICIOUS!
Caramelized Onion, Herb & Polenta Loaf
1-2 sweet onions, sliced thin
2 TBSP butter
1 TBSP white balsamic vinegar
2 tsp sugar
4 large eggs
3/4 cup olive oil
3/4 cup milk
2 1/4 cups flour
1/3 cup fine ground corn meal or polenta
1 TBSP each fresh thyme, sage, and rosemary – dried is fine too, but use a little less of each if using dried – about 1 1/2 tsp each
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
Preheat the oven to 350* F.
Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray.
Slice the onions thin, about 1/4 “. In a very hot skillet or pan, melt the butter and add the onions, the white balsamic vinegar and the sugar. Cook the onions until they are soft and a golden brown in color, or caramelized. If you like the onions darker and sweeter, cook them a little longer. Once they start to brown, they cook very quickly, so be careful not to let them burn.
While the onions are cooking, mix all the dry ingredients and the herbs together and set aside.
Whisk the eggs together and slowly add the olive oil while they are whisking. Then add the milk and continue to mix until everything is well blended. Add the dry ingredients and continue to mix just until everything is well incorporated together.
Fold in the caramelized onions to the mixture then pour or spoon into your prepared loaf pan. Make sure that the batter is evenly distributed in the pan. Bake at 350* F for about 1 hour, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean and the loaf is golden brown and set.
Once the polenta loaf has completely cooled, enjoy it with either honey butter or creme fraiche and olive oil and black pepper.