Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Child of the Corn

I probably shouldn't have scraped the sides--but I wanted it all.
I am a Child of the Corn. No, not that scary movie. It's just that I love things made from corn. I love popcorn, corn noodles, corn bread and corn muffins.

And I love polenta.

Ever wonder why corn and tomatoes, both New World ingredients, got to do so well in Italy? I wonder. Don't have an answer yet, but I do wonder.

But recently, I decided I had to have it with a dish I was making--nothing else would do. It's such a lovely color, it's such a lovely texture...

I turned to my rock, Marcella Hazan. Let me just say that Marcella doesn't do anything by halves. Remember when I begged to not have to par-boil the fresh lasagna noodles? She said NO.

For polenta, she has you standing there stirring and stirring and stirring...for 45 minutes. Luckily for me, she also has an easier method--er, one she refers to as the "no stir" method...HA.--for the lazy (my word, not Marcella's!) among us. Add the polenta to boiling water, stir it, put heat on low, cover, let it cook 10 minutes. Stir another minute. Cover and cook 10 minutes...etc. Do that 4 times, then stir stir stir stir at the end...serve this silky-textured molten corn with an intensely flavored tomato sauce and steak...

Or you could also pour it into a loaf pan to slice and saute or grill the next day or two.
Or you could stir cheese into it, pour it into a shallow pan, cut it into pretty squares or diamond shapes and top it with sauteed mushrooms, like we did at Union Square (name drop!)...mmm, great little hors d'oeuvres.

The crust is the best part, right? And trust me, just like Marcella says, an overnight soak and this came out in one piece.

And the next day I had it sliced and griddled...
But whatever you do, don't do instant. Marcella, in the spirit of being fair, tried hard to like instant polenta, but she just couldn't. And really, jumping up to stir a pot of this every 10 minutes? Not a hardship, not at all for the final results.

As for me, with every recipe I make from Essentials of Italian Cooking by Marcella, I am in love. Maybe I can blog my way through it like Julie did with Julia. Unoriginal, but man, what a year of good eating I would have!!!