Slow Cooker Pumpkin Parmesan Polenta
- 2 cups/12 ounces traditional or stone-ground polenta (not instant or quick cooking)
- 2 (15-ounce) cans pumpkin purée
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1½ sticks)
- 1½ tablespoons kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
- Black pepper
- 1 thyme sprig
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, plus more for topping
- 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- 10 ounces grated Parmesan (about 3 cups), plus more for serving
1.In a 6- to 8-quart slow cooker, whisk together the polenta with 10 cups of water, then whisk in the pumpkin. Scatter in 4 tablespoons butter, cut into bits; the salt; a generous amount of pepper; the thyme sprig; 1 sprig of the sage; and ½ teaspoon nutmeg. Cook on low for 6 hours, whisking once or twice if possible. (This can hold very well on warm for several hours.)
2. Break the cream cheese into pieces and drop them into the polenta; whisk to melt the cream cheese and combine. Remove and discard the herb sprigs. Stir in the remaining ½ teaspoon grated nutmeg, then stir in the grated Parmesan. Taste and add more salt if necessary.
3. In a medium skillet, melt the remaining 8 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat. Pick the leaves from the remaining sage sprigs, and when the butter is melted, drop them in. Cook the butter and the sage, swirling the pan often, until the butter solids start to turn medium-brown and smell toasty, 3 to 5 minutes. (Don’t walk away; butter goes from browned to burned in seconds.) Remove the pan from the heat immediately and swirl the browned butter-sage mixture into the polenta. Serve the polenta in a large platter or shallow bowl, topped with a bit more Parmesan and more nutmeg if desired.
TIP: Refrigerated leftovers will solidify; you can cut it into into slices and gently warm them in oil in a skillet. Or, to make the dish a day ahead re-warm the polenta in a pot over medium heat, whisking in splashes of boiling water, until the polenta is creamy again and warmed through.