Help Me Recreate a Creamed Corn Polenta

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Q: My wife and I had dinner at Morel’s near the L.A. Farmers Market, and they had an amazingly delicious creamed corn polenta.

I’d like to make some at home, but I’m new to polenta and need help finding a recipe. Any ideas?

Sent by Patrick

Editor: Patrick, we’ve got polenta and grits on the brain after our review of Glorious Grits yesterday and our review of Marcella Hazan’s polenta earlier today, so we’re happy to help. Here are a few tips and a recipe from the book.

There isn’t much difference between grits and polenta, other than how finely the corn is ground. Polenta is ground smaller, so it cooks faster and ends up smoother.

With both grits and polenta, you can buy different types—stone-ground (which are coarser and take longer to cook), finely ground, and quick cooking. We’d recommend getting some good, stone-ground polenta. You have more time to manipulate it on the stovetop. Quick cooking types can be done in a flash, leaving you very little time to blend in other ingredients.

You can buy logs of pre-cooked polenta, but buying dry polenta and cooking it yourself is a better bet.

One simple way you could recreate this dish is to cook some polenta in milk, adding in a can of creamed corn towards the end (maybe some cheese, too). But we thought this recipe looked delicious, so wanted to share. It’s for grits, but you can substitute polenta—just keep an eye on the cooking time, since polenta should cook faster.

It calls for fresh corn, but we think creamed corn would work well, too (especially since corn is almost out of season), and there’s also some butternut squash in there. Doesn’t that sound good for Fall? Experiment and let us know what you think.

Creamy Corn Grits with Butternut Squash and Sweet Corn
from Glorious Grits

1 cup peeled, diced butternut squash
1 cup fresh corn kernels
2 1/2 cups milk
2 tablespoons minced onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 cup uncooked, stone-ground yellow grits (or polenta)
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded white Cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
Pinch of ground red pepper
Salt to taste
Black pepper to taste

Cook squash in boiling water to cover 5 minutes or just until tender. Remove with a slotted spoon, and set aside. Return water in pan to a boil; add corn. Cook 1 minute; drain and set aside.

Combine milk and next 2 ingredients in a medium, heavy saucepan; cook over medium-high head just until mixture starts to boil. Gradually add grits, stirring with a wooden spoon; reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, 20 to 25 minutes or until thick, stirring often. Remove from heat, and add cheeses, chives, and ground red pepper, stirring until cheeses melt. Season to taste with salt (about 1/2 teaspoon) and pepper (about 1/8 teaspoon). Sprinkle squash and corn over grits, and serve immediately. Yield: 4 servings.

Anyone have another suggestion for Patrick?

(Image: Flickr member RBerteig, licensed for use under Creative Commons)