When I posted the Chicken with Tomato-Herb Pan Sauce a few weeks ago, I had no idea how many people would ask me for the recipe for the polenta that I served with it. And since we loved it so much, I had no problem remaking it so I could share the recipe with you! Apparently this is a very inauthentic dish, since corn is not really eaten much in Europe. But honestly, if something tastes good and we enjoy it, I don't worry too much about authenticity.
This is really just a basic recipe for polenta, with some corn and herbs mixed in at the end. There are two options for incorporating the corn: stir it in during the last 10 or so minutes of cooking the polenta so that it cooks there, or cook it ahead of time and stir it in at the end. I have made it both ways, and it's great either way. I just happened to have the grill on already, so I threw a few ears of corn on and grilled them. I think it gave the dish a great smoky and charred flavor, but it certainly wasn't necessary. I don't think I would specifically turn the grill on just for this recipe.
Because we loved the tomato-herb pan sauce so much, I made it again to serve over the polenta last week. It was really really great with the polenta, but you could certainly serve the polenta on it's own without a sauce. It's very versatile in that it can be a main dish or a side. It's pretty rare for me to repeat recipes, especially within a few-week period, so the fact that I've made this twice is a testament to how much we loved it.
Polenta with Corn and Basil
inspired by The Complete Italian Vegetarian Cookbook, by Jack Bishop
- 2 cups medium-grind cornmeal, or polenta
- 4.5 cups water
- 4.5 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 4 ears corn
- 2 Tbs unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup minced fresh basil leaves
- 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- freshly cracked black pepper
In a slow stream, whisk the cornmeal into the boiling water, whisking constantly. To prevent lumps, continue to whisk constantly as the mixture returns to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer. Every 10 minutes or so, stir the polenta with a wooden spoon. If it seems too thick and is getting hard to stir, add a little of the reserved water/broth mixture and stir to incorporate.
Meanwhile, remove the husks and silk from the corn. Stand each ear in a large shallow bowl and cut the kernels from the cobs.
When the polenta has been cooking for about 30 minutes, stir in the corn. Continue to cook an additional 10 minutes or so, until the corn is tender and cooked through. Alternatively, cook the corn using your preferred method and stir it in at the end of the cooking time.
Stir in the butter, and stir until melted. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the cream, basil, and cheese. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. If the polenta is too thick, stir in more broth. Serve immediately, garnishing each serving with freshly cracked black pepper.