Don’t you just love bacon? I’m convinced of one thing when it comes to cooking. Everything’s better with bacon. Everything.
Bacon just adds that savory, salty, earthy crunch to whatever you pair it with. So, when I had this beautiful bunch of Swiss chard I was trying to figure out what to do with and this lovely package of organic, nitrite-free bacon, inspiration hit like a bolt out of heaven.
Make a casserole with polenta (a fancy Italian way of saying grits:)), the swiss chard, lots of cheese and BACON!! It gives this dish a wonderful crunchy and deeply flavorful soul that perfectly complements the sweet chard and bland cornmeal. Liven it with onions and mozzarella and in my opinion this becomes true comfort food.
The recipe is inspired by one I found on Epicurious.com. Enjoy!
We ate this as a main dish but it would make a really lovely side dish to a roast or a great dish to bring to a pot luck. Oh, and it’s Gluten Free!
Cut Swiss chard into 1/2 inch strips.
Baked Polenta with Swiss Chard, Bacon and Cheese-Ingredients
- 2 tablespoons grape seed oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
- 1 pound Swiss chard, thick stems and ribs removed, leaves cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-wide strips
- 12 to 16 ounces of bacon cooked and crumbled, see Princess Tips below
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 3 1/2 cups water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup polenta (coarse cornmeal) or yellow cornmeal
- 2 large eggs
- 2 cups coarsely grated mozzarella cheese (about 8 ounces)
Baked Polenta with Swiss Chard, Bacon and Cheese – Method
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Lightly grease a 2-quart glass baking dish. Heat oil in heavy large deep skillet over medium heat.
- Add onion; sauté until tender, about 8 minutes.
- Stir in garlic and crushed red pepper, then chard; cook until chard is tender, stirring occasionally, about 5-8 minutes. Stir until any excess liquid in skillet evaporates. Season with salt and pepper. Since the bacon is salty, you don’t need a lot of salt. Maybe 1/2 a teaspoon and several grindings of freshly ground pepper.
- When the chard is finished, stir in the crumbled bacon.
- While the Swiss chard is cooking, bring 3 1/2 cups water and salt to a boil in a heavy large saucepan. Gradually stir polenta into boiling water. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer until polenta is very thick, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. You want this thick, not watery at all.
- Whisk mozzarella and eggs in bowl; whisk in 1 cup hot polenta. Stir cheese mixture into polenta in saucepan.
- Spread half of the polenta mixture in the baking dish. Spread half of the chard mixture over the polenta. Sprinkle with half of the parmesan cheese. Repeat layering with remaining polenta, chard, and cheese. Bake until puffed and brown on top, about 45 minutes. Cool 30 minutes.
- The original recipe calls for ricotta cheese mixed in with the polenta and mozzarella sprinkled on top. I didn’t have any ricotta so I just used the mozzarella and added parmesan to sprinkle on top. Next time, I’ll try it with ricotta.
- If Swiss chard isn’t available, this would work well with kale or any firm green. Even escarole. Spinach reduces down too much. You really need a substantial green for this dish.
- If you are a vegetarian, leave out the bacon. It will still be delicious.
- To cook a lot of bacon, here’s my secret: cook it in the oven! Use a rimmed cookie sheet. Lay out your bacon in strips. Put the cookie sheet in a cold oven. Turn the heat to 400 and cook for 17 minutes. Start checking the bacon at 13 minutes and check every minute or so as bacon will go from perfectly cooked to burned to a crisp in no time. Take the pan out, drain off the fat and put the strips on a paper towel lined plate. Perfectly flat and no splatters! You can then freeze what you don’t use. Take out a couple of strips and microwave for 30 seconds. Perfect, hot bacon anytime. You’re welcome!
- If you didn’t want to use the polenta, all the other ingredients would be fabulous over pasta.
- This dish is even better the next day.