Sunday started out innocently enough. I flipped through a couple of magazines looking for dinner ideas and settled on a combination of recipes – seared Bass served over corn polenta with tomato compote. What could go wrong?
Off we went to Whole Foods to select the fish, and after ruling out the $30/pound Bass, we settled on Opah. I’ve never had it before and was assured it would do well on the stove top. It was a beautiful piece of fish until I flipped it over so it was skin side up………it was polka-dotted. Really! Pink polka-dots staring up at me. My first thought was – look how cute that is. My second thought was – I can’t eat that. When I gave up eating meat almost two years ago, I decided that I would still eat fish. My game, my rules, right? Now I’m questioning the rules if the game is going to involve fish with polka dots.
I made the fish anyway, cooked with a beautiful sear. Then made polenta and the tomato compote. We sat down to eat and watch the movie Big Miracle. Big Mistake. Some things just don’t go together, and eating fish with polka dot skin while watching a movie about saving whales would rank right near the top of that list. So, no fish recipe included here, just the recipe for fresh polenta and a really fantastic tomato compote.
The polenta was a little two sweet for Mike’s liking, even though there’s no added sugar. It think it’s just that fresh corn, right off the cob, is inherently sweet. The tomato jam is the perfect balance to the sweet polenta though, and I thought they played off each other perfectly. While I made this with fresh ear corn, I don’t know why it wouldn’t work with a really good frozen corn. I think the tomatoes have to be fresh and in season though, not winter grocery tomatoes.
Adapted slightly from Yotam Ottolenghi
5-6 ears of corn
2-1/4 cups water
3 tbsp butter, diced
4 oz feta, crumbled
1/4 tsp salt
Remove the corn leaves and “silk” from each ear of corn, then chop off the pointed top and stalk. Use a sharp knife to shave off the kernels — either stand each ear upright on its base and shave downward, or lay each ear on its side on a cutting board to slice off the kernels. You want to have 1-1/4 pounds kernels.
Place the kernels in a medium saucepan and cover them with the water. Cook for 12 minutes on a low simmer. Use a slotted spoon to lift the kernels from the water and into the bowl food processor; reserve the cooking liquid.
Process the corn for a full minute or two to break as much of the kernel case as possible. Taste and if it’s not creamy enough, process for another 30-60 seconds. Add some of the cooking liquid if the mixture becomes too dry to process.
Return the corn paste to the pan and cook on low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the mixture thickens to mashed potato consistency. Alternately, if you like the consistency after processing, you can skip to step.
Fold in the butter, the feta, salt and some pepper. Taste and add more salt if needed.
Tony Quartaro, The Bristol, Chicago
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, smashed
2 vine ripened tomatoes, cored and sliced into eighths
Pinch of salt
1 tsp red wine vinegar
In a medium saucepan over low heat, add the oil and garlic and cook until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Remove the garlic and increase the heat to high. When the oil is almost smoking add the tomatoes and any accumulated juices (be careful, it will splatter). Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are broken down and look like jam, about 15-20 minutes. Add the salt and red wine vinegar, stir to combine and remove the heat.
Place a generous spoon of polenta in a bowl or on a plate. Make a well in the center and fill with some tomato compote. Alternatively, serve the tomato compote on the side of the polenta.