Tuesday, February 03, 2009

A side of comfort, please!

I've always felt that a roast chicken, one of the ultimate comfort foods, demands the same of its side dish. Comfort food is like that. Meatloaf, the beefy side of comfort food, has its perfect match in mashed potatoes. Now I love the potato in all of its glorious forms, but my roast chicken, which I not so humbly submit as the best ever, has its natural partner in the sensually steaming bowl of polenta with mascarpone pictured above. The herb infused chicken, slightly smoky from the grill, and the creamy, rich, buttery polenta....if ever there was a match made in culinary heaven, this is it.

Now, on to the practical stuff. Most polenta recipes I read call for polenta in a roughly one-to-four cornmeal-to-liquid ratio. Usually the liquid called for is water, and inevitably the resulting polenta lacks flavor and richness. Cornmeal (and I use the Golden Pheasant brand) in and of itself isn't a terribly intensely flavored grain. It can be if you get freshly ground meal at your farmers market, but that is a luxury that for most of us isn't readily available. Which is why with my polenta, even though they call for the 1-to-4 cornmeal-to-water, I improve it immeasurably by substituting chicken stock for half the water. Try it, you'll be amazed. Of course the mascarpone and butter are optional, but if you have that option, why not exercise it?
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Polenta with Mascarpone

2 cups water
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup polenta
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons mascarpone

Bring water and stock to boil over high heat in a medium saucepan and add a large pinch of salt. Reduce heat to medium and slowly add polenta in a steady stream, stirring in to liquid with a whisk. Keep whisking until polenta has absorbed the liquid and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat, add butter and two tablespoons mascarpone and stir to combine. Pour polenta into serving bowl. Dollop remaining tablespoon mascarpone on top and serve immediately.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

Back home we'd just call these cheese grits. I use Bob's Red Mill brand of "Corn Grits also known as Polenta." I'd probably just use extra sharp cheddar cheese but I must admit the mascarpone and butter sounds like a very good option indeed!