By: Danya Weiner
When it comes to food, there are those things that I have always had an aversion to, things that I recently discovered that I am not a fan of, and those things that I never liked and have recently realized I like.
I never quite understood the deal with polenta- a sort of rich, creamy, tasteless corn porridge (or so I thought). Recently, polenta made from fresh corn has become the hottest trend in the Tel Aviv restaurant scene, and every respectable chef has the stuff on their menu. The fresh made version, which differs from the classic store bought kind, is very different from the tasteless porridge I had thought it was and is usually served with heavy cream and a good amount of parmesan.
A recent outing to the Tel Aviv hotspot North Abraxas gave me the inspiration to make polenta at home to try to understand this recent craze. I found a way to combine the fresh polenta taste, using the store-bought classic kind:
I stopped by the local organic farmers market and picked up some fresh corn on the cob. From there I went to my local butcher shop, which also acts as a specialty shop, carrying top quality products from all over the world. I bought myself a bag of real Italian polenta. I came home, put a movie on for the kids and got to work. I cooked the corn in a lot of water, and once they were soft, I drained the corn and kept the water aside to use as my cooking water for the polenta. Then I started cooking the polenta, stirring constantly (polenta, like risotto, needs your full attention). To top it off, I threw in just a “little” parmesan and the fresh corn kernels, and I feel in love with the stuff!
Polenta may be served as a side dish, main course or even as an appetizer, like the one we made here (baked in the oven and topped with a lot of parmesan).
Ingredients for six servings:
4 cups water, boiling
A pinch of salt
2 cobs of corn
1½ teaspoons salt
1 cup polenta
1½ tablespoons butter
Fresh grated parmesan
- Fill a large pot with boiling water, add a pinch of salt and cook the cobs of corn for 10 minutes, until softened.
- Drain the corn from the water, reserving two cups of water. Place the corn aside for later use.
- Place the cooking water in a medium saucepan, add the salt and bring to a boil. Gradually add the polenta and stir constantly using a wooden spoon, until thickened.
- Remove from heat and continue to stir until reaching paste-like consistency. Add the butter, and return to a low heat and cook for an additional 20 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Remove the corn from the cooked cobs and add to polenta.
- Serve with fresh grated parmesan.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and pour the polenta onto the sheet. Spread it out into one even thin layer. Top with a generous amount of fresh grated parmesan. Place cherry tomatoes on the sheet and drizzle with olive oil and sea salt. Bake for 25 minutes at 350ºF, until golden and crisp. Slice and serve with the baked tomatoes.