I love crispy polenta patties. There are so many things that you can top them with to make so many different delicious meals. Mushrooms are always a favorite of mine. You can keep it kind of light by making a balsamic glazed mushroom sauce…. Or cook up some spinach with some red pepper flakes for a little heat, and some oven roasted tomatoes for acidity. (I’d probably also add mushrooms to that combo, because of my love of mushrooms….) They can be used as a “Benedict” base with spinach, or avocado, and my favorite kind of egg–poached. Or they can be topped by any delicious sauce you desire.
Last night, I had some left-over mole in the freezer, which is common in my house right now (and I love it). So I wanted to make a sort of spicy, Mexican inspired polenta patty to serve with a drizzle of mole. I decided to cook up some Esquites (herby, spicy fried corn) to mix in to my polenta patties.
- 3/4 Cup Corn Meal
- 3 Tablespoons Butter
- 4-5 Cloves of Garlic, minced
- 1 Cup Milk
- 1 Cup Veggie Broth
- 1/2 Cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
- Egg, beaten
- Salt to taste
- Optional: 3 Ears of Corn, 2 Seranno Chiles, 8-10 Leaves of Epazote (Use some creative juices here: don’t love heat? Just add fresh corn. Have another flavor that is speaking to you? Try adding it, for example: sun-dried tomatoes or chives.)
- Vegetable/Canola Oil for Frying
First, prep the esquites. Cut the corn off of the cob. I learned two nifty tricks here from my husband (who learned them from RB….). First, use a chef’s knife to cut off the shank (the bottom stalk), then the leaves will come off easily. Second, to help keep track of all of your kernels: place a smaller bowl upside down inside a larger bowl, place a corn cob on the smaller bowl and cut down the cob–the large bowl with catch all of your runaway kernels. Chop your seranno chiles, and epazote leaves.
Heat up a cast iron skillet with a few tablespoons of oil, and fry the corn and serrano chiles. Once golden, mix in the epazote for about 30 seconds, and remove from heat. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. If you want to add corn, but not “esquites” I wouldn’t bother cooking them before adding to the polenta.
And on to the polenta. Melt butter in a pot and add garlic. Once fragrant, about 30 seconds, add milk and veggie broth. Allow to come to a gentle simmer. Slowly whisk in the corn meal and continue to stir constantly for three minutes. Slowly add the parmesan cheese, whisking constantly, about two more minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the esquites.
Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool slightly. Fill the cast iron skillet up with 1/2″ of vegetable oil and put over medium-high heat. Mix the egg into the polenta mixture. The batter will be dense and pliable. Divide into 8 balls, and prepare your patties. Once the oil is hot, gently add the patties to the oil, three or four at a time. Once one side is brown, about two-three minutes, turn the patty over and cook until golden. Place on a paper towel lined cookie sheet. Once all eight are fried up, serve immediately, or place in a warm oven until you are ready to serve them.
I would recommend serving something leafy with polenta patties: a salad, roasted brussels sprouts, or broccoli.