I made this for a catered lunch I did last winter and it was a huge hit. It incorporates grilled or sauteed corn (depending on the time of year) in the polenta along with cheese to round out the flavors. The ragu should use what's in season. When I first did this I was lucky enough to have chanterelle mushrooms in season, which was a wonderful combination with the sun dried tomatoes, artichokes and polenta. —TheWimpyVegetarian
Grilled Rustic Polenta
ears of corn, or 1 cup frozen corn kernels
stone ground polenta (I used Pheasant polenta)
grapeseed oil for grilling
Chanterelle and Pancetta Ragu
sun-dried tomatoes, thinly sliced
medium onion, thinly sliced lengthwise
garlic cloves, minced
chanterelle mushrooms, cleaned and torn into long lengths
slices of pancetta, fried, and crumbled into small pieces
Saute garlic in the oil in a small pan over medium heat until lightly brown and very aromatic, about 2 minutes. Set aside.
Grill the corn until browned in spots. Remove the kernels from the cob and set aside. If working with frozen corn kernels, thaw them in the microwave and then place them in a dry pan over medium-high heat. Toss them around the pan until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
In a medium heavy pot, bring the chicken broth to a boil and add the butter and salt. Gradually add the polenta, constantly stirring with a wooden spoon. Cook the polenta on medium-high heat for 5 minutes while continuing to stir to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for another 20 minutes, stirring the polenta every few minutes.
Stir in the grilled corn and cook for another minute. Fold in the cheeses until they are melted and absorbed by the polenta. Fold in the chives. Adjust for seasoning with more salt if needed. If the polenta gets too stiff, stir in additional water over low heat.
You can serve as it is or prepare it be grilled. To prepare for grilling, pour the polenta into a square baking pan. Cover and chill for at least 3 hours to firm it up. Cut into squares and then each square along the diagonal into two triangles. Heat up the grill or a grill pan on the stove to very hot and well oil it with grapeseed oil. Lightly brush the polenta triangles with oil as well to prevent from sticking. Once the grill is hot, lay the polenta triangles on the grill and cover. Don't flip them until they release naturally (about 3 minutes each side).
To make the ragu, first place the chanterelles in a dry pan over medium heat to release the water from the mushrooms (about 3 - 4 minutes). Heat olive oil in a large pan and add the onion and garlic. Sauté until soft and light brown, stirring frequently (about 15 minutes). Stir in the paprika, crushed red pepper and sun-dried tomatoes and cook another minute. Add the wine and cook until the wine is almost gone, about 2 minutes. Add the broth, the pancetta and the mushrooms. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the thyme. Season to taste. Serve over the polenta.