When I think of making polenta it’s usually a wintry evening and I’m craving a heartwarming dish. I always have a bag of cornmeal in the freezer that I’ve brought back from Italy with plans for a dinner. The Panini Girl Tour usually visits a miller on one of our day excursions and what a treat it is to see the corn being ground by a method that’s been used for centuries. With every bite of our supper I relive our visit to the miller.
Now it’s summer and here I am talking about “polenta”. This a a dish made with fresh corn and it is every bit as delectable as the wintry version. The recipe comes from the Ottolenghi cookbook Plenty, which is a vegetarian book from the famed London restauranteur. His version includes an eggplant topping and since I didn’t have an eggplant in the house I topped mine with a combination of olives, golden raisins, celery, tomatoes and pine nuts that I had prepared for grilled swordfish earlier in the week.
This is more like a creamy porridge rather than the thicker wintry dish. There’s no cream involved, but feel free to add whatever cheese you might have on hand. I added some grated parmesan and fontina rather than the feta.
I have to add that our great friends L & B make a similar corn dish and unfortunately we don’t have the nifty “corn scraper” that they use nor did we have the incredible homemade chile topping that they serve. Until we are invited to their house during corn season this will have to make do!
Sweet Corn Polenta
6 ears of corn
2 1/4 cups water
3 tablespoons butter, diced
7 ounces feta, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon salt
Remove the leaves and “silk” from each ear of corn, then chop off the pointed top and stalk. Use a sharp knife to shave off the kernels — either stand each ear upright on its base and shave downward, or lay each ear on its side on a cutting board to slice off the kernels. You want to have 1- 1/4 pounds kernels.
Place the kernels in a medium saucepan and barely cover them with the water. Cook for 12 minutes on a low simmer. Use a slotted spoon to lift the kernels from the water and into a food processor; reserve the cooking liquid.
Process them for quite a few minutes, to break as much of the kernel case as possible. Add some of the cooking liquid if the mixture becomes too dry to process.
Now return the corn paste to the pan with the cooking liquid and cook, while stirring, on low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the mixture thickens to mashed potato consistency. Be aware that if you have a lot of liquid left in the pan, it can take a while to cook down the polenta, and it will sputter. Consider holding back some or all of the liquid. I held most of it back and added it a little at a time.
Fold in the butter, the feta, salt and some pepper and optionally cook for a further 2 minutes. Taste and add more salt if needed.
Panini Girl In Lucca May 2018–questions-get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org