Friday, June 15, 2007

Three Corn Polenta – An old Italian classic gets “freshened-up”

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!



Ingredients:
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)

14 comments:

lily said...

i never thought of fresh and dried corn together. i will try this, thanks.

Jason said...

I know this is the recipe you wanted to post over the Chicken Parmesan. But I cooked the CP for my Mother and Father a few days back and they both said it was the best Chicken they've ever had.

I'm going to try this one as a side dish for Father's day. I'm planning to do an Italian meal.

Keep up the great work!

How are those cooking classes coming along? I can't wait.

Chef John said...

thanks.

Hopefully I'll have all this new camrea and software stuff figured out in a few weeks. and then I'll be ready to film a nice course and put all those big culinary schools out of business! I'm also still looking for a more professional kitchen to film in. So, if any of my SF viewers have any tips (or really nice kitchens) let me know.

Scott / Kath said...

Big fan, first time responding. Had a subscription to Cook's Illustrated but their recipes are very very involved. Plus, I got tired of them "rethinking pork chops."

Anyways, this is why I've migrated to your site. It's much easier and pleasantly informal. I've told dozens of people here in Boston of your site; hope it's as big a hit with them as it is with us.

Can't wait to try the corn polenta.

Request : A nice breaded scallop dish for the summer. Pretty pretty pretty please.

Scott

Chef John said...

Thanks! RE: your request... I wish decent scallops were easier to get here in SF. The supermarket "fresh" sea scallops are bad since they are all treated with preservatives. The fresh wild day boat scallops are CRAZY expensive. Sometimes you can find frozen wild scallops in some stores, but not always. Also, as far as a recipe, I can't think of anything better than just breaded, fried and fresh lemon ailoi! Thanks for watching and spreading the word!

Anonymous said...

Hi -
We miss you guys. My computer is ready, but I didn't have time to pick it up before we left.

See you soon.

Your family visiting Clear Lake.

Chef John said...

Hope you guys have a great time, and make sure you let Al watch the end of the US Open! See you soon.

AP said...

...any idea on how I could further "sexy" this recipe up...I know there are countless recipes,but wanted to keep it simple and flavorful...what would be your "go-to" additions? Nice Pic BTW...

Chef John said...

how about fried sage leaves, or roasted red peppers, or sauted mushrooms, or mascarpone, or some Bolero?

AP said...

excellent! as always, thanks for sharing...AP

Anonymous said...

Help! the video is no longer available!! I shall try to figure it out on my own...

Chef John said...

i just watched it. Seems to be fine.

drewguy said...

great dish very good cooked with Chicken broth great flavor

BBTGoss said...

Hi Chef John,

I've got some cans of whole yellow corn in my pantry. Could I drain them and substitute the same amount for the fresh corn?
Thank you so much for the videos. I've been learning to cook for the past month or so, and they are a terrific resource. I did your "dijon pan jus" tonight. Looking forward to trying the "pork diablo" recipe sometime soon (first recipe of yours I ever saw.)