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Savory Cheddar Polenta with
Maple Poached Apples and Mascarpone

Savory Cheddar Polenta with Maple Poached Apples and MascarponeOn a chilly autumn or winter morning, warm up with a bowl of creamy cheddar polenta topped with maple-sweetened, brandied poached apples and a dollop of mascarpone.

Recipe Ingredients:

2 medium-sized firm, crisp apples (Jonathan, gala or similar cooking apples)
1 cup apple juice
3/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 lemon, thinly sliced
1/2 cinnamon stick
5 whole allspice
2 tablespoons brandy (optional)
4 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup dried polenta or yellow cornmeal
1 cup (4-ounces) sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped or 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
4 large tablespoons mascarpone cheese, separated
1/4 cup toasted walnut or pecan pieces for garnish

Cooking Directions:

  1. Peel, halve and core the apples. Place them in a 2-quart saucepan with the apple juice, maple syrup, lemon slices, cinnamon stick, allspice and brandy. Simmer over medium heat for about 15 minutes until sauce thickens slightly and apples are tender. Remove from heat, but keep warm while making the polenta.
  2. To make the polenta, bring the water to a boil and add the salt. Gradually whisk in the polenta, stirring constantly and cook over medium low heat for about 25 minutes or until velvety, but not too thick. Stir in the cheddar cheese and the thyme. Add salt to taste.
  3. Spoon 1/4 of the polenta into a shallow bowl and top with half a poached apple and some of the poaching juices. Top with a generous tablespoon of mascarpone cheese, and garnish with toasted nuts and extra grated cheddar if desired. For a sweeter taste, sprinkle brown sugar or drizzle maple syrup on top.

Makes 4 servings.

Tip: Apples can be poached the day before and warmed just before serving.

Recipe by Jesse Ziff Cool

Recipe and photograph provided courtesy of the American Dairy Association.