Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Savory Polenta

The Mister and I are not complicated folks.  We're way more likely to eat at a greasy elbows-on-the-table joint than anything with "Chez" in the name.

But we all have to step out of our comfort zones every now and then.

Last summer, we had dinner at Central Park Fusion, a fancy-pants restaurant in Hot Springs.  I chose the filet over creamy truffled polenta.  Now, I'm going to level with you here and admit that I didn't have a blessed clue what polenta would taste like, and wasn't sure that the yellowy mush was really something I wanted to put in my mouth.  I'm so glad I did, though, because it was amazing.  A-maz-ing- rich and savory, with a hint of corn flavor.

Aiming to recreate that dish, I tried a few different polenta recipes at home and have officially found the winner.  With an ingredient list this simple, it's hard to go wrong.  It has a very simple flavor that can be tweaked with additions like roasted poblano peppers or corn on- off-the-cob.

Adapted from Alton Brown
Serves 4

* Gluten-free diners should double-check the chicken broth for sources of gluten.  This website has a list of gluten-free broths.

2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 quart chicken broth
1 cup coarse ground cornmeal
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 ounces Parmesan, grated
Salt and pepper to taste

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2.  In a large, oven-safe saucepan heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until they begin to turn translucent, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, add the garlic, and saute for 1 to 2 minutes, making sure the garlic does not burn.
3.  Turn the heat up to high, add the chicken stock, and bring to a boil. Gradually add the cornmeal while whisking continuously. Once you have added all of the cornmeal, cover the pot and place it in the oven. Cook for 35 to 40 minutes, stirring every
10 minutes to prevent lumps.
4.  Once the mixture is creamy, remove from the oven and add the butter, salt, and pepper. Once they are incorporated, gradually add the Parmesan.
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