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I nspired by our beans and grains editors' picks challenge, last week I decided to experiment with one of the grains on the list I'd never cooked with before: millet. A few weeks before, I'd come across a great-looking recipe for millet and cheddar polenta in a recent issue of Fine Cooking and was intrigued to say the least. (Let's face it: I'm intrigued by pretty much anything that sounds like nursery food and contains cheese.) I figured this recipe would be as good a place to start my millet research as any and set to work riffing.
Whenever I cook grits, which are essentially the same as polenta, I use a combination of milk and water to make them extra-creamy. So I did the same with the millet, roasting the grains first to bring out their toasty flavor as the Fine Cooking recipe suggested. I let the millet simmer gently, as instructed, for about 40 minutes, until it became a thick, creamy porridge.
Instead of cheddar, I folded in tiny cubes of Asiago Fresco, a fruity, semi-soft Italian cow's milk cheese. Then, recalling from my experience recreating Al Forno's baked pasta with pumpkin that a small amount of blue cheese can add a subtle, almost unidentifiable zing, I stirred in a few crumbles. I finished it off with a generous grinding of black pepper and as a final touch, I tossed in a handful of chopped fresh chives. The resulting "polenta" was smooth and rich and lightly cheesy; most of the millet had completely broken down, but there was a pleasant chew from a semi-intact grain every now and then. Comforting and savory, this just may be my new favorite supper to snuggle up on the couch with.
Millet with Cheese and Chives
Serves 2 to 3 as dinner, 6 as a side dish
- 1 cup millet
- 2 cups milk
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 ounces Asiago Fresco or Fontina, diced
- 2 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese (I used Fourme d’Ambert)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoon chopped chives