Polenta Pancetta Dressing



This is another recipe that appears the November/December edition of The IOWAN magazine.  They asked for “Iowa-Sourced” holiday recipes so polenta seemed like a good direction to take the classic dish since organic polenta is grown and produced near Cresco.  It resembles cornbread stuffing—flavorful and hearty as the night is long.  La Quercia pancetta was an obvious addition to the mix, rich with a hint of juniper berries….and from Iowa.


The polenta can be made a couple days in advance and the dressing assembled one day ahead.  Pre-prep is always a handy thing for a holiday meal!




Make the polenta and pour into an oiled pan to cool and congeal.  It can be refrigerated for at least a day.



Slice into cubes.




Roast the cubes on an oiled cookie sheet—they get a lovely crispy crust.


Don’t be intimidated by the length of the recipe—two parts only : the Polenta and finishing the Dressing.

Easier than pie.


Safe travels and Happy Thanksgiving! 




Polenta Pancetta Dressing

Prep Time: 10 minutes for polenta, 20 minutes for stuffing

Cook Time: 20 minutes for polenta, 45 minutes for stuffing


yield: 6-8 cups

Polenta can be made up to 2 days in advance and the dressing 1 day ahead.


The Polenta

Oil a 9×13 pan. 

In a 4 quart heavy sauce pan heat:

3 3/4 cups Water, Chicken or Vegetable Stock

3 Tablespoons Butter

1 heaping teaspoon Fresh Garlic, minced


When it begins to simmer, turn the heat to medium-low and 

slowly pour in while stirring:

1 1/3 cups Polenta

Stir continuously while it cooks for 15-20 minutes.  

After 20 minutes, stir in:

1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese (or Prairie Breeze Cheese from Milton Creamery), grated

1/2 cup Corn Kernels

1 Tablespoon Fresh Sage, finely chopped

When the cheese has melted, pour the hot polenta into the oiled pan and spread it out evenly with a spatula or spoon.  Be careful when pouring—it’s the consistency of hot lava!

Let cool for a few hours, or cover and refrigerate for a day. 


Roast the Polenta:

When polenta is cooled and you are ready to make the dressing, slice into small cubes (about 3/4 inch).  

Transfer the cubes to an oiled baking sheet. 

Roast the polenta around 45 minutes at 350 degrees.


The Dressing

Saute in a large saute pan:

1/2 pound ground Pork

Remove the cooked pork from pan.

Add to the hot pan and saute until the onion is translucent:

1 x 4 ounce package La Quercia Pancetta, sliced into small pieces (or Bacon would work)

1/2 cup Onion, diced

1-2 stalks Celery, diced

2 Tablespoon Fresh Sage, finely chopped

1 Tablespoon Fresh Rosemary, finely chopped

1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg

Salt and Pepper to taste

Gently stir together in a bowl:

Roasted Polenta cubes

the cooked Pork

the Pancetta mixture

3/4 cup Fresh Parsley, chopped

1/2 Red Pepper, diced

1 1/2 cups Chicken Stock


Grease a 9×13 baking pan with bacon fat or butter and transfer the dressing. 

Cover tightly with foil.  This can be stored covered in the refrigerator for a day. 

To bake, remove it from the refrigerator an hour before heating.  Bake covered at 350 degrees for approximately 45 minutes. 



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