Tuesday, July 9, 2013


Most people have their own idea of what constitutes "comfort food."  Perhaps it's mashed potatoes or macaroni and cheese, or chocolate!  Polenta is my idea of a great comfort food.  I have so many recipes that polenta warrants it's own category in my recipe files.  Also, all of the recipes are great!  Yes!  Trust me on this!  Here is the polenta recipe I made for a meal with friends on Saturday night.

*  1 tablespoon oil
*  2 cups corn (fresh cut from cobs, or drained canned)
*  1/2 cup finely diced sweet red pepper
*  3 green onions (all but 2 inches of green stems removed), chopped
*  1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus to taste
*  1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
*  1-1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter, plus extra to grease pan
*  3-3/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken stock
*  1 cup yellow cornmeal
*  1-1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided
Preheat oven to 350º.  Heat oil in a heavy, medium skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium-high heat.  When hot, add corn and cook until it starts to brown, 6 to 8 minutes.  Stir only occasionally so the corn can caramelize and develop a roasted flavor.  After corn has browned, add red peppers and onions and stir and cook 2 minutes more.  add 1 teaspoon salt and cayenne pepper.  Taste and, if needed, season with additional salt.  Set aside while you prepare polenta.

Butter an 8-inch square baking pan and set aside.  Place chicken stock in medium, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to boil.  Gradually add cornmeal in a fine stream, whisking constantly until mixture thickens.  This will take 5 to 8 minutes.  Whisk in 1-1/2 tablespoons butter and 1 cup of the cheese and continue whisking until cheese has melted.  Stir in sauteed corn mixture.  Taste and season with more salt if needed.

Immediately pour polenta into prepared baking pan and, using rubber spatula, smooth top.  Cool to room temperature.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled and firm, 1 hour or longer.  (Polenta can be prepared a day ahead to this point.  Keep covered and refrigerated until ready to finalize.)

When ready to bake, arrange rack in center of oven.  Line baking sheet with foil and butter foil generously.  Cut polenta into 16 triangles.  Start by cutting polenta into 2 triangles and continue to cut each triangle in half until you have 16.  Arrange triangles on baking sheet or grill and sprinkle each with some of remaining 1/2 cup cheese.  Bake or grill until heated through and cheese has melted, about 10 minutes.

This is a photo showing the polenta before it gets cut and baked/grilled.

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