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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Polenta with Corn and Thyme

This recipe is very simple and very cheap to make. A bag of fine cornmeal, found in the baking aisle, is around $2 and will make many, many recipes in a addition to polenta. Before buying a box labeled polenta, compare the price to a bag of cornmeal. I think you'll find the price is considerably less when just labeled cornmeal.

Polenta with Corn and Thyme
2 tbsp unsalted butter, divided
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1 tsp fresh or dried thyme leaves
1 cup whole milk (I used fat-free half-and-half)
1/2 cup fine yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
coarse salt

1. In a large saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon of the unsalted butter over medium-high heat. Add one cup of frozen corn kernels and 1 teaspoon of thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally, until corn is warmed through, about 1 minute.

2. Add 1 cup whole milk and 1 1/2 cups water and bring to a boil. Slowly whisk in 1/2 cup fine yellow cornmeal. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is thick and creamy, about 6 minutes.

3. Remove from heat and stir in 1 tablespoon of butter and 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese. Season with coarse salt and ground pepper; serve immediately.

The Verdict: Rich and tasty. It's also very elegant, so it looks and tastes like it's a lot more difficult to prepare than it is.

While cooking, I noticed that it went from creamy and wet to a thicker consistency rather quickly. This happened before the 6 minute cook time. Test the polenta if you think it's starting to look thick; if it's cooked through, take it off the heat. If not, add 1/4 cups of water at a time too keep it at a wet consistency. Otherwise, before it completely cools, it will congeal into a big ol' corn biscuit. Not so elegant.

At the moment, I cannot say enough about using freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese in recipes. The cost of a slice is a little daunting, but honestly, just a little bit goes a long way. The cheese is extremely dry, so when you break off and shave a piece that's hardly 2x2", it fluffs up to at least a quarter cup. The taste is also extremely sharp yet sweet with a hint of gaminess if you use sheep's milk cheese. (Which I'd recommend.)

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