Looking for a way to savor the last of the season’s fresh corn? You’ve come to the right place. Let’s try some creamy, cheesy polenta, topped with grilled corn. A match made in heaven? I’d say so. And if you think making polenta is something that takes an hour stirring and sweating over a hot stove, you are in for a big surprise: once your ingredients are organized and ready to go, this baby comes together in 20 minutes. Not kidding.
Let’s get the show on the road by grilling some fresh corn. No fancy preparations here – just shuck it, get those whiskers off the best you can, toss with some oil and salt and thrown it on the grill. As soon as you see the char marks appear and corn appears to soften, you’re done. Cool it until you can handle it, then cut the corn from the cob with a sharp paring knife. Please try not cut your fingers off in this attempt.
While all that grilling is going on, get your polenta going. I like a creamy polenta, so instead of just water as the liquid, I prefer a good amount of 2% milk. Use whole milk or half & half if you want. Add some salt, garlic powder, and cayenne to the hot milk/water mixture, then pour in the polenta.
Cook this mixture over medium heat until you can pull a wooden spoon or a whisk through it and the bottom of the pan appears, like this:
All that’s left to do is throw in a handful of grated parmesan cheese (or other hard cheese blend of your choice), and stir it in. Then…throw a couple of good handfuls of baby spinach into the pan and gently stir in, just until the spinach wilts, like this: …NOTE: if your polenta looks too ‘tight’, meaning too stiff, just stir in some water until you get it to the firmness you like. This happens sometimes, but no need to sweat it.
At this point, I like to scatter a nice big handful of grated jack or sharp cheddar cheese over the top and then sprinkle with paprika. Cover the pan, and let it sit for about 5-10 minutes. This allows the cheese to melt and the polenta grains to continue to soak up all that creamy milk.
When ready to serve, scoop yourself out a big old bowlful and top with the grilled corn. So good. So good on so many levels: creamy, cheesy, savory, sweet, crunchy with corn, and beautiful to look at. I think without too much persuasion I could eat the entire panful.
Try it with grilled chicken slathered with barbecue sauce for the ultimate polenta rush.
This is my favorite comfort food, aside from macaroni and cheese of course. Dive in – make a pig of yourself – it’s really the only way to go about this.
I hope you try it. I hope you love it. If you’ve never eaten polenta before, or haven’t had it all dolled up like this, you’ll be in for a treat.
Thanks so much for reading!! xoxoxox
- 3 ears of fresh corn
- 1-tablespoon canola oil or other neutral oil
- 2 cups 2% milk
- 1 ½ cups water
- Salt, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper to taste
- 1-cup Bob's Red Mill Polenta (or other quality brand)
- Approximately ¾ cup grated Parmesan or other hard cheese blend of your choice
- 2 big handfuls (or about 2 cups) of baby spinach leaves
- Approximately ½ cup grated Monterey Jack or Cheddar cheese
- Good quality paprika (use semi-sharp if you like a spicier polenta, or smoked if you prefer a more barbecued taste)
- Shuck the corn, spritz with oil and salt, and grill over medium heat until kernels start to caramelize and corn has softened.
- Once corn has cooled so you can handle it, remove kernels from cob with a sharp paring knife. Set aside.
- In a large skillet or other similarly sized pan, heat together the milk, water, salt, cayenne, and garlic powder. Heat until simmering.
- Pour in the polenta, and stir until combined. If it clumps up, just press the clumps down with a wooden spoon until they disappear.
- Cook the polenta over medium-to-medium low heat until thick enough so that a whisk or spoon pulled through the bottom of the pan leaves a trail.
- Add ¾ cup grated Parmesan and stir to blend.
- Add baby spinach and stir gently just until the spinach is wilted. Check for thickness: if too thick for your taste, add water in ⅛ cup increments until it gets to where you want it.
- Top with grated jack or cheddar cheese, sprinkle with paprika, and cover.
- Let polenta sit while cheese melts and polenta continues to absorb moisture, about 5-10 minutes.
- To serve: scoop polenta into bowls and top with grilled corn.