Parmigiano Polenta 101

This is an old peasant favorite.  Cooking doesn’t get more simple and easy than this. 

First off, this is the first of several announcements that there will be a big kickoff to the 180 Kitchen blog in March – a month with several posts and videos dedicated to one beautiful topic – Filet Mignon.  It will be dubbed, “Mignon March.” 

The videos are currently being recorded, and one such dish with Filet Mignon that I whipped up last night was served over the ever-versatile, satisfying, and simple quick polenta with white cornmeal.  I’ve made this so many times in my life that I wouldn’t even dream of taking the time to measure anything.  I understand many people get frustrated with my lack of reliable measurements, but I continue to uphold my belief that technique, intuition, flexibility, and focus on the food is the primary means of becoming a great chef – not stubborn adherence to stiff measurements.  And this site and my cooking eBook is not dedicated to your success with dinner tonight, but in your success in developing the skills and tools needed to make EVERY dinner (and lunch and breakfast) a great success. 

General directions are:

1) Bring a half-water to half-cream pot of water to boil (whole milk or half n’ half can be used with no additional water as well if you prefer, and make a sweeter finished product).

2) Whisk in white cornmeal, yellow cornmeal, or grits until you feel a slight thickness developing.

3) Reduce heat and cook covered for about 5 minutes, stirring a couple of times – the coarser the cornmeal or grits the more liquid it will need and the longer you will need to cook it to keep it from being “grainy” and “gritty.”

4) Finish with a hearty chunk of butter (whisked in immediately to avoid separation) and plenty of real Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.

The finished product should be almost as smooth as mashed potatoes with a similar consistency.  It should not be stiff nor should it be so runny that it oozes across the plate.  The biggest mistake made with polenta is adding too much cornmeal.  When the ratio of cornmeal to liquid is too small, it won’t get soft and creamy no matter how long you cook it. 

You can also spread the polenta out on a sheet tray, let it cool in the refrigerator, and then cut it into slices for frying or grilling on a barbecue grill as well.

At the end of the video you will see I included a brief clip from one of my Filet Mignon videos to show you the consistency and look of the finished product once it has cooked for several minutes and received a 180 shot of butter and Parmigiano Reggiano. 

Published in: on February 19, 2010 at 11:17 am  Comments (18)  
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White Truffle Fries

Wow you guys.  I’ve been putting down pound after pound of truffled fries cooked in expeller-pressed “refined” coconut oil.  They are simply incredible when you get them right.  Just make sure if you are dropping ’em in the oven like I do in this video, that the heat is cranked up pretty high.  425 degrees F is a minimum if you want them crispy and downright amazing.  This is seriously one of the best things I’ve made and eaten in my home kitchen in the last year.   Make this for yourself, your significant other, or for a small group of friends and they will have a whole new level of respect for your culinary studliness.  Note: the truffle oil, although amazing, is totally not necessary.  Even without it, a perfectly-cooked homemade Yukon Gold french fry that is properly seasoned is a force to be reckoned with.  Enjoy!

Friday Night Menu

This past Friday I cooked for a party of 20 – it was a paid, pro gig for a family friend’s birthday party.  Things went really well, although being on my feet for 12 hours in a day isn’t something I’m no longer immune to.  I was feeling it by the end of the day for sure.  Sorry no pics, but my next post will be on making really good homemade truffle fries similar to the potatoes used in the main course.  My totally experimental “jalapeno-saffron nage” is probably worth a post too. 

But here is the menu for you to fantasize about.  Note, nothing I made was really all that special or superhuman.  Anybody can cook really well when using fat!  The secret of the pros! 

Hors d’oeuvres

Panko-Fried “Dynamite” Shrimp ~ Black Sesame

1st

Pan-Seared Alaskan Halibut ~ Parmigiano Grits ~ Jalapeno-Saffron Nage

Main

Bacon-Wrapped Beef Tenderloin ~ Twice-fried Tarragon and Truffle Potatoes ~ “Melted” Shallot Bordelaise