A recipe is merely words on paper; a guideline, a starting point from which to improvise. It cannot pretend to replace the practiced hand and telling glance of a watchful cook. For that reason, this is also an account of what happens when I make this dish, so you’ll understand each step. Of course when you cook it once, it becomes yours, so personalize it a bit. Add more of an ingredient you like or less of something you don’t like. Try substituting one ingredient for another. Remember words have no flavour, you have to add your own!
Polenta is a traditional Italian pudding thickened with cornmeal. Freshly made it has a soft creamy texture but it hardens when cool and is then easily cut into slices that can be grilled or pan seared. This method cuts the traditional hour-long stirring time in half by finishing the polenta in an oven.
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until they just begin to turn golden brown, about five minutes. Add the milk and broth and bring them to a simmer.
2. Add the cornmeal in a slow steady stream, whisking constantly to prevent lumping. Switch to a wooden spoon as soon as all the cornmeal is in the broth. It will quickly thicken beyond the point that a whisk is useful. Lower the heat and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until the mixture really thickens, about ten minutes.
3. Stir in the corn, cheese, salt and pepper then pour into a loaf pan or baking dish. Bake for fifteen minutes then rest five minutes before serving while hot and creamy. Alternatively, refrigerate until firm then reheat by cutting it into slices and grill them. You may also toss the slices with more cornmeal and pan-fry them.