Dana Treat – Treat Yourself

What is Your Comfort Food?

Posted October 17, 2012

Fresh Corn Polenta with Tomato Corn Broth and Mushrooms
Dana Treat Original
Serves 4

For the broth:
2 corn cobs
½ onion
3 garlic cloves, peeled
3 parsley sprigs
2 thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
6 peppercorns
1 tsp. kosher or sea salt
4 roma tomatoes, roughly chopped
4 cups water

For the polenta:
4 cups water
1½ cups polenta or medium cornmeal
1 tsp. kosher or sea salt
Kernels from 2 ears of corn
¼ cup ricotta cheese
Freshly ground black pepper

To finish:
1 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 pound cremini mushrooms, stems removed, slice in half
½ pound shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, slice in half
1 tbsp. thyme leaves
Kosher or sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
½ cup (or more) basil, cut in thin ribbons, for garnish
½ (or more) cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish

Make the broth:
If you haven’t already, cut the kernels off the two ears of corn.  Set the kernels aside in a bowl.  Place the cobs, onion half, garlic cloves, parsley and thyme spigs, bay leaf, peppercorns, salt, and tomatoes in a soup pot.  Pour in the water.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce to a lively simmer and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has reduced to about 1½ cups, about 45 minutes.  Pour through a fine mesh strainer into a smaller pot.  Press on the solids in the strainer to extract the juices.  Cover the broth and set aside.  (This can be made earlier in the day.  Reheat it when you are ready to use it.  You will want it nice and hot.)

Make the polenta:
Pour the water or broth into a pot that has nice high sides.  Bring to a boil.  Slowly drizzle in the polenta, whisking constantly.  It will seem like too much liquid for the amount of polenta, but the liquid absorbs pretty rapidly.  Turn the heat to low.  Continue whisking until the mixture is very thick, just about 5 minutes.  Make sure the heat is on low and allow to cook, stirring often, for 10 minutes.  It will bubble thickly and may mess up your stove, the higher the sides on our pot the better for reducing mess.  After 10 minutes, stir in the fresh corn kernels.  Cook for another 5 minutes, stirring often.  Stir in the ricotta cheese and allow it to cook for another few minutes so that the flavors can meld.  Season to taste with pepper and salt.  Cover and it should keep warm for about 30 minutes or so.  If you need to reheat it, you can do so gently over very low heat.  Be sure to stir it well so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot.

Finish the dish:
Place a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Melt the butter, add the olive oil, and add the mushrooms.  Allow them to cook without disturbing them for a few minutes so they can get a bit of a sear.  Then stir occasionally as they cook for another 5-10 minutes.  About halfway through the cooking time, add the fresh thyme leaves and a good pinch of salt.  Once the mushrooms are nicely browned, season to taste with salt and pepper.

Spoon a healthy portion of polenta into 4 shallow bowls.  Top with the mushrooms, fresh basil, and a shower of Parmesan cheese.  Carefully ladle the broth around the very edge of the bowl, so it moistens the polenta without making the mushrooms soggy.

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