It's been awhile (ahem) since we've had a guest post, but mostly that's our fault because we talk too much. The following letter is from Sarah's cousin who is actually a trained professional chef (you think we would have begged her for recipe ideas sooner). She lives in Kirkland, Washington, with her husband and little pup, and spends her day cooking up a storm at her local soup company. Despite her culinary expertise, it's nice to know that she has struggles in the kitchen, too. Ok, maybe not IN the kitchen, but near it. Read on...
Sarah and Libby,
Bryan hates polenta.
When I learned this sad fact I was honestly taken aback; how could this man who I had married actually hate one of my all-time favorite comfort foods? Since the news broke, I have made it from time to time in hopes of eventually changing his mind. Soft and creamy with rich chicken stock…cut and sautéed into golden brown bites of heaven…it mattered not. Even Thomas Keller’s gloriously indulgent cream laden recipe could not turn his head and I began to think all was lost.
But then, it happened.
A cool and slightly grey Seattle day urged me to give my grill a break and to serve up a little comfort for dinner. I craved polenta and decided to try a slightly different take. If Bryan loves my risotto, why can’t I apply a similar process in the finished product for polenta? I decided to use a fine grind polenta (as its texture is one of the larger hurdles for him to overcome) and cooked it in a combination of water and 2% milk. I adjusted the seasoning as it cooked and once I was happy with the overall texture, I finished the polenta with parmesan (as per usual) but instead of butter, I folded in a couple tablespoons of whipped cream cheese. It was velvety and satisfying; still exhibiting the essence of corn but perhaps dressed for a date, and wearing some killer heels.
He had not one, but TWO servings and took leftovers for lunch the next day. I’d call that a success.
Husband Approved Polenta
Serves 4 (or 2…I won’t judge)
1/2c Fine grind polenta (I used Bob’s Red Mill…medium grind could certainly be substituted)
2c Milk (whole or 2%)
1/4c Whipped cream cheese (or mascarpone)
1/4c Grated parmesan
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Combine the milk and water in a heavy sauce pan and bring to a boil.
Season the liquid, then add the polenta in a steady stream and whisk to incorporate.
Reduce the heat and continue to whisk to prevent any lumps from forming. Whisk for roughly 30 minutes or until the polenta is cooked to your liking.
Off heat, fold in the cream cheese and parmesan; season to finish.