Pumpkin Polenta with Maple Bacon Gravy celebrates fall flavors with sweet, salty, savory goodness! An easy main or side dish.
Updated: November 2018
One of my favorite comfort foods is Polenta. It’s inexpensive and easy to prepare. It’s also very versatile for incorporating different seasonings to change it up!
Pumpkin Polenta with Maple Bacon Gravy is a family favorite. It celebrates the fall season with great seasonal flavors and a cozy feel.
What is Polenta?
Polenta is a wonderful option to include in fall menus. Made from fine to coarse ground yellow cornmeal, it can be prepared in a few ways:
- boiled for a creamy porridge-like consistency, or
- prepared and chilled to be sliced and either fried or grilled.
Polenta has a light corn flavor on its own.
It can be seasoned with different spices to influence the flavors in many different directions.
Pumpkin Polenta: Main Dish or Side Dish?
Polenta can be eaten as a meat-free main dish or for a side dish too. It’s a homey comfort food option in the colder months especially.
Sautéed vegetables or meat sauces are a wonderful topping for either the creamy or firm versions of polenta.
Is Polenta Gluten-Free?
Yes! Polenta is naturally gluten-free.
Pumpkin Polenta Recipe
This polenta recipe is a creamy polenta with the seasonal addition of pumpkin puree, and a bit of shallot and sage.
Medium grind cornmeal provides a pleasing rustic texture. The addition of pumpkin puree creates a beautiful, rich color. The pumpkin also adds a fall flavor without taking over the whole dish flavor-wise.
Maple Bacon Gravy
As a topping I wanted a salty-sweet combination to compliment the pumpkin and corn flavors. Behold Maple Bacon Gravy; your life will change forever!
I am not a gravy Girl per se but truth-be-told I would happily lap up every drop of this even without putting it on something else (would be great on Thanksgiving turkey).
This bacon gravy combines bacon, apple and maple flavors making it slightly sweet and still savory.
It’s a perfect addition to the pumpkin polenta recipe and would be great on meats or mashed potatoes too!
If you’ve made this Pumpkin Polenta & Maple Bacon Gravy recipe please RATE THE RECIPE below!
How to Make Pumpkin Polenta and Maple Bacon Gravy – Step by Step:
Pumpkin Polenta with Maple Bacon Gravy
This mouthwatering comfort food combo is perfect as a main dish or side dish!
Ingredients for Bacon-Maple Gravy:
- 5 slices thick-cut Bacon , cooked until done but not crispy, drained and diced; pan drippings reserved (see below)
- 3 tablespoons Bacon Pan Drippings
- 2 tablespoons Flour (gluten-free or regular)
- 1/8 teaspoon Kosher Salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground Black Pepper
- ¼ cup Apple Juice (naturally flavored preferred)
- 1 cup Whole Milk
- ½ cup Low Sodium Chicken Broth
- 3 tablespoons Pure Maple Syrup
Ingredients for Pumpkin Polenta:
- 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
- 1 tablespoon diced Shallots
- 1 ½ teaspoons Sage leaves , diced (approximately 4-5 medium leaves)
- 3 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
- 1 cup Whole Milk
- 1 cup medium grind , Cornmeal
- 1 1/2 cups Pumpkin Puree (canned or homemade)
- 1 ½ teaspoons Kosher Salt
- ½ teaspoon ground Black Pepper
Instructions for Bacon-Maple Gravy:
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the bacon drippings, flour, salt and pepper. Whisk to fully combine.
Gradually whisk in the apple juice, milk, chicken broth and maple syrup. Over medium-low heat, bring almost to a boil, whisking frequently, until the gravy has thickened (about 2-5 minutes). Stir in diced bacon and keep warm until serving with the polenta (or follow thinning tips in the Notes below).
Instructions for Pumpkin Polenta:
- In a heavy, medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the shallots; sauté until translucent.
- Add sage and sauté for another minute.
- Add the chicken stock and milk to the saucepan and bring to a low boil over medium heat; stirring often to prohibit scalding the milk.
- Slow sprinkle the cornmeal into the saucepan, whisking constantly (this method ensures the cornmeal will not form clumps when combining it with the liquids). If clumps form, whisk them out before proceeding.
- Add the pumpkin puree and whisk to fully incorporate.
- Allow polenta to cook, stirring or whisking frequently, until thick and creamy (approximately 20 minutes; may take a bit longer if cooking at altitude). Note: I noticed when the polenta was perfectly thickened, the bubbles coming up from the heat would burst like little mud pots and splatter some of the polenta. Stir in the salt and pepper; serve immediately topped with some of the Bacon-Maple Gravy.
As gravy cools, or if leftovers are refrigerated, it will thicken. To thin: warm over low heat, whisking in milk and/or chicken stock a tablespoon or two at a time until desired thickness is achieved.
Originally published: October 3, 2014