Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Fresh Polenta

Did you know you could make polenta fresh from REAL CORN?! I didn't, until I stumbled across this fortuitous little post over at food52. Yes, my friends, apparently polenta can be made without the use of those handy plastic tubes of it that I buy from the miniature (but at least existent, have to give credit where credit is due) organic section of my grocery store and even (gasp!) without a bag of corn meal.

In the summer in particular, this is fantastic news. One, fresh corn is so cheap right now. Not to mention vibrant, yellow, and gleaming inside all its husk-enveloped glory... and, hey wait, did I mention cheap?

And two, no matter what the season, polenta made this way is so delicious that I'm not entirely sure how I survived before I discovered it. (Yes, by eating many of the millions of food items in existence other than polenta I suppose, but just indulge my exaggerations for a mere moment, please.)

The following recipe for fresh polenta includes a bed of greens for it to rest upon, as well as a few poached eggs and some sauteed mushrooms to grace it's delightful presence, but you could just as easily serve it on its own (with a little grated pepper and parmesan cheese, perhaps) alongside a main dish of your choosing. Greens, eggs and mushrooms added, though, I think this makes the perfect weeknight main dish in and of itself. This recipe serves one, so double or quadruple or, I don't know, octuple, as you need to.

2 ears of corn
3 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup roughly chopped sweet onion
1 Tbsp. garlic
1/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth (or water, in a pinch)
1 & 1/2 cup roughly chopped cruciferous greens
1/2 cup sliced portobello mushrooms
a quick grating of asiago cheese
salt and pepper

1. Melt 2 Tbsps. of the butter in a skillet over medium heat, waiting until it begins to bubble and turn brown. Brown butter. Voila. There is nothing tastier. Nothing. (Oh wait... except fresh polenta. Need to learn to keep my story straight.)

2. Husk and then grate the raw ears of corn on the coarse side of a grater, over a large bowl. If you have a big box grater, this will be relatively quick and easy. The results will be a rather pulpy and wet mixture... dump into skillet along with butter, salt and pepper to cut the sweetness, and let cook on medium-low for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in another skillet, and brown the garlic and onion for a few minutes, until fragrant. Add the greens and broth, salt, then cover and let them wilt down to less than half their original appearance in a matter of minutes. We used kale the first time I cooked this with one of my dearest friends, at her wise and knowing insistence, and it was delicious. Back at home, I used mustard greens, as no kale was to be found. Equally effective. Any hearty green will work.

4. Using the remaining Tbsp. of butter, quickly saute the mushrooms with a little salt and pepper.

5. Poach two eggs.

6. Layer the greens onto the plate first, spoon the polenta over top and make two small indentations with the spoon, nestle the poached eggs inside, and add the mushrooms right beside them. A final grating of asiago (or parmesan) cheese over the whole thing, with perhaps a final shake of pepper, and there you are - a quick and easy budget-conscious, incredibly filling, weeknight dinner that you (and by you, I do mean me) could eat every night.

And really, aren't those owl salt and pepper shakers irresistibly cute?! I, ahem, speak from experience when I say they were. But for $5 at Pier 1 with a $10 off coupon, I can't feel too guilty.

1 comment:

  1. I am wise and knowing! wow! <3
    Well, I do really love kale :)

    I also got these ingredients again and I believe I am making this again tonight. Sans mushrooms, of course ;)