We grew corn this year, for the very first time, and it was insanely good. Our little square of rustling stalks were waaaay above our knees by the 4th of July, the most ambitious plants reaching up to tickle my chin. But we worried they wouldn't produce since we only had 12 plants (three rows of four) and corn is "open-wind pollinated and needs neighboring corn plants for good formulation of well-filled ears of corn". Our concerns, it turned out, were unfounded and the cobs grew fat and sweet. One day, we suddenly realized the corn was ripe and we should be eating it. So I pulled a few cobs off the plants, took three steps and dropped them right onto the grill to cook. So good! Sweet, earthy and amazingly fresh.

Unfortunately, all of the ripening corn hit the sweet spot on, it seemed, the same day and suddenly we had more than we could eat. With the best of intentions, all the remaining corn was harvested but languished on the counter a bit too long and had to be tossed. I'm writing this with a heavy heart full of disappointment that we didn't take full advantage of our harvest. I just know it would have made the most amazing Sweet Corn Polenta in today's recipe.

corn from our garden... so colorful!

For dinner tonight, I had to make due with the plumpest available corn from the supermarket. But I am able to take credit for the eggplant that stars in the rich, tomatoey sauce. It's the first eggplant I've harvested this year and have only 2 more fruits with a chance of ripening before the season is over. The lack of production has surprised me as the two plants had plenty of blossoms and I've had good luck in the past. But I won't worry about that now. Instead I'll start chopping and get the eggplant sauce going.

garden eggplant!

The eggplant cubes are fried until nicely brown then stirred together with a scoop of tomato paste. Then in go chopped tomatoes (from the garden also!), white wine, sugar and oregano. After simmering another 5 minutes to combine all the flavors and break down the tomatoes, the sauce is ready and I set it aside to focus on the polenta.

eggplant before & after

Mr. O compares this fresh corn polenta to baby food, but assures me that is a good thing. I'm not so sure and am hoping the finished texture isn't a turn-off. But the only way to find out is to charge ahead! So first I slice all the kernels from the corn, which inevitably leads to corn bits flying everywhere. Now the kernels are gently simmered before being pureed for "quite a few minutes, to break as much of the kernel case as possible."

The resulting "corn paste" goes back into the pan with the reserved cooking liquid to simmer slowly until nice and thick. The recipes approximates this will take 10 - 15 minutes but my paste needed closer to 20 to reach "a mashed potato consistency." Now stir in the finishing touches of butter, crumbled feta, salt and black pepper.

Once the butter has been fully incorporated, we are ready to eat. I scoop up bowlfuls of soft yellow polenta and smother it with rich, red eggplant sauce. And I'm very pleasantly surprised. The polenta texture is lovely; velvety soft with a pronounced corn flavor. Thankfully, the feta softens but doesn't melt into the corn and so surprises with salty, textural nuggets in the otherwise smooth polenta. The eggplant sauce provides a heartiness and well-balanced acidity to the meal. A lot of work goes into making this dish, but it is entirely enjoyable and might even be worth it. If there is a next time, I think I'll top the polenta with sauteed mushrooms and a poached egg... oh yeah!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Web Analytics