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Pan Fried Maple Goat Cheese Polenta with Chipotle Brussels Sprouts

Pan Fried Maple Goat Cheese Polenta with Chipotle Brussels Sprouts

I certainly wouldn't have imagined one of the first recipes I would post in my blog would feature polenta. I would have guessed something involving frosting. Let's just be would be cupcakes. I have been baking (and eating) cupcakes for years. As a high school student, I hosted cupcake making parties. As a RA in college, I held meetings with, you guessed it, cupcakes. Oh yeah, I have one tattoo and it's of a cupcake! But, the cupcake recipe will come soon. For now, I'm going to share one of my favorite savory dishes - pan fried polenta with brussels sprouts!

Polenta and I have a rocky history. My husband and I learned to cook together by subscribing to a food delivery service. They provided the ingredients and a recipe and we cooked a delicious meal together. One of the first recipes we received involved a side of polenta. I enthusiastically followed the recipe and created a thick, tasteless paste. Oh man, it was awful. The next time we received a recipe involving polenta, my husband owned the polenta aspect of the recipe. Once again, awful. Fortunately, I became determined to create a polenta that was as delicious as I knew it could be. I tried a few recipes and techniques and I can finally say I am no longer afraid of cooking polenta.

Polenta is really the star of this recipe. It is cooked, cooled, slathered in maple syrup, rolled in panko crumbs and finally pan fried until a crispy brown crust forms. The brussels sprouts are tossed with olive oil, chipotle, and adobo sauce to add a spicy, smokey flavor to the dish. Lastly, a poached egg sits atop. The runny egg yolk adds a rich, velvety sauce to the plate. And I didn't even mention the creamy goat cheese mixed into the polenta. Yum.

Pan Fried Maple Goat Cheese Polenta with Chipotle Brussels Sprouts
Serves 4

Brussels Sprouts
12 oz brussels sprouts
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 1/2 chipotles, minced*
1 1/2 teaspoons adobo sauce*
3 cloves of garlic, minced
Kosher salt and pepper, for seasoning

Pan Fried Polenta
1 cup instant polenta
2 cups milk
1 cup water
3 oz goat cheese
3 tablespoons maple syrup, divided
5 sprigs of fresh thyme, chopped
1/2 cup flour
1 cup plain panko crumbs

2 teaspoons aleppo pepper flakes
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2-3 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper, for seasoning

4 eggs, poached
sriracha sauce, drizzle
salt and pepper

Start by making the polenta. Add the 2 cups of milk and 1 cup of water to a large pot over medium-high heat. When it starts to boil, turn the heat down to low, slowly add the polenta in a constant stream, whisking continuously for the amount of time specified on your package - mine is 3 min instant polenta. You want the polenta to be thick with no liquid remaining. Stir in the thyme, goat cheese, maple syrup and season with salt and pepper. Be sure to stir until all the white from the goat cheese is incorporated. Add the cooked polenta to a standard bread pan and smooth out the top so it sits in an even layer. You want the layer to be a little over an inch thick. Alternatively, spread in a larger pan so the mixture is approximately 1/2 an inch thick and skip the step where the polenta is cut horizontally. Cool the mixture in the fridge for at least 20 min or overnight. 

When the polenta is almost done in the fridge, start your brussels sprouts. After washing them, cut off the bottom of the brussels sprouts, remove any wilted outer leaves and slice in half vertically. Add the brussels sprouts to a large bowl and toss with the chipotle peppers, adobo sauce, garlic and 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. Season with kosher salt and pepper to taste (I prefer my brussels sprouts salty). 

Remove the cooled polenta from the fridge and setup for the coating of the polenta. Prepare three plates, one containing the flour, one empty plate for the syrup and the last plate for the panko crumbs. Add the remaining tablespoon of maple syrup to a rameken or small bowl and season the panko crumbs with salt, pepper, aleppo pepper and garlic powder. Cut the polenta into four rectangles then slice each horizontally so you have eight 1/2 inch rectangles. Working one at a time, first coat the front and back of the polenta with flour. Using a silicone pastry brush, slather the floured sides with maple syrup. When mixed with the flour, the maple syrup will become a thick paste. That is OK, just make sure the sides are evenly coated. Lastly, press each side into the panko crumbs. Leave the completed polenta cakes on a large cutting board or cookie sheet until ready to cook.

You will cook the polenta and brussels sprouts at the same time. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat for the polenta. When the oil is shimmering, add the polenta cakes, working in batches if necessary. Cook until a brown crust has formed, about 5 min, then flip and cook for another 5 min. Once cooked, transfer the polenta cakes to a plate lined with paper towels. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet for the brussels sprouts. When the oil is shimmering, add the brussels sprouts with the cut side faced down. Cook for approximately 4 min per side or until light brown and tender. Using your preferred method, poach the eggs. I use the Alton Brown method ( ).

When ready to plate, add two polenta cakes side by side and top with 1/4 of the brussels sprouts. Add one poached egg on top of the brussels sprouts per plate. Lightly season the egg with salt and pepper and drizzle with sriracha, if desired. Break into the egg before eating so the dish is covered in the rich yolk.


* You can find canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce in the international section of your grocery store

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