In today’s clip I'm going to use corn in three different ways. I’m going to use it dried and ground, which of course is the Polenta part. I’m also going to use fresh corn, but cooked two different ways. Part of the fresh corn will be sautéed and cooked into the polenta, and the remainder will be added at the last minute so it stays relatively crisp and fresh tasting. Now, if all this sounds too complicated, as you’ll see from the clip, it’s actually an extremely simple dish. The final result may remind some of you of creamed corn, but this is significantly lower in fat and calories, as it has only a small amount of butter and no cream, flour, etc. The “creaminess” comes from the properly cooked polenta and plain old water.
When I first began my career as a cook in San Francisco, polenta wasn’t a common starch in non-Italian restaurants, as it is today. I remember talking with a Chef about an upcoming menu on which he was thinking of using polenta as the side dish. I asked him what exactly polenta was and he told me an Italian ground corn meal. I asked him if he was talking about “Polanda.” He said no, and that he had never heard of polanda. I told him it was also an Italian ground corn meal that I had eaten many times growing up. I remember calling my Mom and telling her we were going to serve something called polenta at the restaurant. I asked her if she had ever heard of this similar sounding dish. She laughed and said that they were the same things! She explained that “pol-an-da” was just our family’s mispronunciation of the actual name polenta. I was pretty embarrassed to say the least. Come to find out, my family had mispronounced and/or Americanized many Italian terms (mostly curse words), which I won’t go into now, but needless to say, from that point on, I’ve always checked! Enjoy!
1/2 cup polenta
2 1/2 cups water
salt and pepper to taste
2 tsp butter
1 tsp olive oil
3 ears fresh corn (about 1 1/2 cups)