Thursday, 19 May 2011

Comfort Food

Tonight, we ate macaroni and cheese for dinner (which is obviously not what's pictured above, but bear with me here).  A nice, sharp cheddar with buttermilk made the sauce extra tangy, and I always like to eat my bowl of "Mac & Cheese" with peas mixed in.  Yes, yes, peas.  That combination might send you reeling, but mine just wouldn't be complete without both (besides, didn't yo mama ever tell you to eat your peas?)!

In my country, we have a term for foods of endearment, called "comfort food".  Essentially, this means whichever foods come to mind when you're feeling blue, are in need of a pick-me-up, or simply, when nothing else will satisfy.  If you're reading this from another part of the world, I know you know exactly what I speak of.  Surely, this sentiment must translate globally!

Well, Polenta happens to be one of mine.

Polenta is very versatile.  Serve it squared.  In triangles like pie or cake.  Creamy, like mashed potatoes.  Browned and crispy around the edges.  Even fried on a griddle (or, "girddle", as one of my nephews so adorably/funnily mispronounces the word).

Below is the über-scrumptious Rosemary Polenta.


(another version I recommend is Ina Garten's own Rosemary Polenta recipe)

Yields: 8 servings

  • 2 1/2 cups canned low-salt chicken broth
  • 2/3 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup grated Gruyère cheese (or Parmesan)
  • 3 T. butter
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, toasted, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
  • 8 walnut halves (I don't usually add these on the top -- see step #7 if you're confused as to what I'm referring to)


1. Butter 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish. 
2. Bring broth to boil in heavy medium saucepan. Gradually whisk in corn meal. 
3. Reduce heat to medium and whisk constantly until mixture thickens, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat. 
4. Add cheese and 1 1/2 tablespoons butter; stir until cheese melts.
5. Stir in chopped walnuts and rosemary. Season with salt and pepper.
6. Transfer polenta to prepared dish; using buttered knife, spread evenly. Cool until polenta is firm, at least 1 hour.
7. Line baking sheet with foil. Cut polenta into 8 wedges. Transfer wedges, bottom side up, to prepared sheet. Dot wedges with 1 1/2 tablespoons butter. Place 1 walnut half in center of each wedge. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.)
8. Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake polenta until heated through, about 12 minutes.

 Stir, stir, stir!

There is Pembleton (remember him?), serving the polenta squares and giving me one of his looks...

The best part of biting into one of these has to be the crispy, cheesy, buttery top.  Mmmm...

What are your staples -- your go-to, comfort foods of choice?

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