Dan Kluger’s Fresh-Corn Polenta with Butter and Herbs

published Jul 25, 2021
Fresh-Corn Polenta with Butter and Herbs

This summery side dish can be served alongside anything you’d eat with polenta, but it’s also lighter than its cornmeal-based counterpart so it works well seafood as well.

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Credit: Evan Sung
Fresh corn polenta

This plain-sounding yet transcendent recipe is from chef Dan Kluger’s book Chasing Flavor, my IRL cookbook club’s pick this past month. Kluger is chef at Loring Place, a lovely restaurant in New York City that is beloved by the Kitchn team, and he is especially known for his thoughtful, interesting takes on vegetables. His 2020 cookbook is very Classic Chef, truly a Project Book, as some serious prep is required for many of the recipes, and his liberal use of butter and salt is in places eye-popping. 

As I was paging through looking for something I could manage on a Monday night, I saw this fresh-corn polenta, which on a deeper read turned out to be actually quite simple, even on a weeknight. It goes like this.

Zip all the corn kernels off a few ears of corn, then purée them in a food processor. Cook this puréed corn in a little oil, stirring all the while, until it thickens, like traditional polenta, into a thick and creamy porridge. However, unlike cornmeal polenta this happens fast — about five minutes for me. The result is an intensely silky, creamy corn porridge you want to just spoon straight into your mouth. The texture is thick and rich in a way I associate with a very luxurious custard, and mostly smooth with some delicious nubs of corn. It’s like the most pure and rich creamed corn you’ve ever had, but with no cream to get in between you and the sweet corn. 

There are no winners at cookbook club, but if there were this would have been a strong frontrunner. It was simply magical. If you finish it as Dan does with a topping of more pan-seared corn with a huge knob of butter and a handful of jalapeño and herbs, I think could very reasonably be called The Corn of the Summer. The topping is truly optional, however (even the butter). The corn porridge on its own is immensely satisfying and you could serve it with nothing more than a grind of fresh pepper, squeeze of lemon, or flurry of chives.

Important Tester Note: Taste for Salt

I do have one note, and that is that I did not use the tablespoon of salt called for in the recipe. I cooked it without, tasted, and then added closer to a teaspoon. Definitely taste before adding that very restaurant-style amount of salt.

Credit: Faith Durand
Fresh-Corn Polenta

Fresh-Corn Polenta with Butter and Herbs

This summery side dish can be served alongside anything you’d eat with polenta, but it’s also lighter than its cornmeal-based counterpart so it works well seafood as well.

Nutritional Info


Fresh-Corn Polenta

  • 8 ears

    corn, shucked

  • 3 tablespoons

    extra virgin olive oil

  • 1/4 teaspoon


  • 1 tablespoon

    kosher salt

For Serving:

  • 2 ears

    corn, shucked

  • 1 tablespoon

    extra-virgin olive oil

  • Kosher salt

  • 4 tablespoons

    unsalted butter

  • 1 tablespoon

    finely chopped jalapeño chile

  • 1 tablespoon

    chopped chives

  • 1 tablespoon

    roughly chopped mint

  • 1 tablespoon

    roughly chopped basil

  • Lemon wedge


Fresh-Corn Polenta:

  1. Working over a large bowl, cut the kernels from the corn, then use the blunt end of the knife to scrape any milk from the cob into the bowl. Discard the cobs or save for making corn stock. Add the contents of the bowl to a food processor and puree until as smooth as possible.

  2. In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the pureed corn, turmeric, and salt and cook, stirring constantly, until the corn has thickened into a polenta-like consistency, 8 to 10 minutes (the corn should be thick enough to hold its shape when spooned onto a plate). Season to taste with salt and keep warm.

For Serving:

  1. Cut the kernels from the corn into a bowl. In a large skillet (preferable cast-iron or nonstick), heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the corn and cook, stirring, until well browned, about 5 minutes. Season with salt. Add the butter and cook until it begins to brown, about 4 minutes. Add the jalapeño and cook for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the herbs. Squeeze the lemon over and stir to combine.

  2. Transfer the corn polenta to a serving bowl. Top with the charred corn mixture and serve.

Recipe Notes

From CHASING FLAVOR: Techniques and Recipes to Cook Fearlessly © 2020 by Daniel Kluger. Photography © 2020 by Evan Sung. Reproduced by permission of Mariner Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.