Polenta seemed a perfect side dish, so I grabbed a package in the supermarket aisle with all the pasta, sauces, etc. Then, in the ethnic aisle, there was a bag of yellow cornmeal marked “fine grits” that was much cheaper, so I bought that instead.
Technically, grits and polenta are not the same thing, but the terms are starting to be used interchangeably and the “fine grits” were yellow (not white like most grits) and looked just like polenta. Just find a recipe you like and use that. I make grits softer for breakfast (more like a hot cereal, the way they’re served in the south).
I had two recipes for corn polenta and grits that seemed very similar and combined them. The fine cornmeal cooked really quickly and tasted just as good as the longer cooking polenta I’ve used in the past. But, we both loved this version and I’m looking forward to trying it with fresh corn this summer.
Cheesy Corn Polenta (Grits)
1 cup whole milk
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup coarse ground cornmeal
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup corn kernels (frozen or canned)
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme (optional)
Place the milk, water and salt into a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Keep an eye on it. Once it boils, whisk in the cornmeal (you don’t want it to lump). Then, decrease the heat to low and cover.
Now, if you use coarse cornmeal, it will have to cook for 20 to 25 minutes (stirring it every 3 to 4 minutes to keep it smooth).
If you use fine cornmeal, it will be done in 4 minutes.
Whichever cornmeal you use, once the mixture is creamy, remove from the heat and stir or whisk in the pepper and butter. Then whisk in the cheese and stir in the corn and herbs if you choose to add herbs.
Note: Leftovers are easily reheated in the microwave (you might need to add a little milk to get them the right consistency).
For breakfast, I put some in a small bowl, made an indentation in the center, added a couple of eggs and microwaved until the eggs were just poached.
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