This recipe is my attempt to recreate a very flavorful dish my Mom used to make when roasting chicken, duck or turkey. I didn’t remember the exact proportions, but could picture the dish visually and by taste. Mom, of course, used chicken or duck fat, which she always rendered from the bird’s skin. I made the dish with butter, fried polenta croutons instead of baguette, which Mom used for the croutons and tried to recreate the familiar taste I remembered.
This side dish can easily become a delicious stuffing by just adding a couple of eggs, chicken or vegetable stock and baking it in the oven. —Kukla
• 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
• 4 cups fresh or frozen corn of the cob
• 12 petted prunes cut in half horizontally
• 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch cubes, tossed with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
• 2 medium shallots finely diced
• 2 tablespoons of tomato puree +2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
• 1 tablespoon sugar
• Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Melt 1 tablespoon butter on medium heat in a large saucepan; add enough polenta croutons to cover the bottom of the saucepan in one layer and fry until golden brown, 4-5 minutes per side. Transfer to a cooling rack, placed over a reamed baking sheet, sprinkle with some salt. Repeat the same process with the rest of polenta croutons, adding some more butter if needed.
Melt 2 tablespoons butter on medium heat in a large saucepan; add the corn, a large pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Cook, occasionally turning with a spatula, for about 5-7 minutes or until the corn softens and is lightly browned. Transfer to a plate.
Melt 1 more tablespoon of butter on medium heat, in the same saucepan; add the apple cubes and sauté, occasionally turning with a spatula, for about 8-10 minutes or until lightly caramelized. Transfer to another plate.
In the same saucepan, melt the last tablespoon butter; add the shallots and sauté until soften and translucent. Add the prunes, tomato puree, balsamic vinegar, sugar, another large pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Sauté, stirring gently, until sugar is completely dissolved, prunes are softened and plumped and shallots are slightly caramelized.
In a large mixing bowl combine corn, apple cubes and the shallot, prunes, tomato puree, balsamic vinegar and sugar mixture; add the chopped herbs and gently mix until everything is well incorporated. Taste for seasoning and add whatever you fill is needed.
When serving, spoon the corn mixture in the center of a serving platter; then surround with the polenta croutons and garnish with the herb you were using. Serve warm or at room temperature to accompany roasted chicken or duck.