Saturday, March 2, 2013
Grow your own polenta
Last summer, for reasons that I cannot entirely comprehend, I became gripped (gripped, I tell you!) by the idea of manufacturing my own polenta. I went so far as to track down and procure a corn seed designed specifically for this purpose, from a faraway source that I am not at liberty to disclose. (For real. The stuff has been determined to be illegal in the United States.)
Being the patient, do-things-the-right-way type, and knowing not a thing about growing corn or making polenta, I searched the mighty interweb seeking guidance but found none. And so, kernels in hand, I decided on a strategy not the least bit unfamiliar to me: I'd just wing it!
Thrilled doesn't quite describe my reaction to the outcome. The fourteen ears of corn that I had designated for use in this experiment yielded five cups of the sweetest, best-tasting polenta that I've ever had. No kidding. It was terrific! I'm already planning this summer's corn crop, and it's going to be bigger than last year's. Just don't tell the Feds about it, okay.
So here's how it went down. When the corn was ready last July I peeled back the husks to expose the ears, then tied the ears together with string and hung them from a curtain rod in the dining room so that they could dry out.
Around November I decided that I had had enough of the waiting game and so I cut the ears down and got to work.
I suppose there are tools that one could use to extricate the kernels but I was in an impatient mood and so I just used my fingers. For the most part simply rubbing the kernels with some force did the trick.
In small batches I then started working the kernels in the Vitamix. This is not the best tool for milling polenta, as it's powerful and can turn the kernels to powder pretty quickly if you're not careful. But I was careful, pulsing as slowly as I could get away with.
And in the end I had this pretty nice mountain of gold.
The consistency wasn't terribly uniform, but I've got time to come up with another method for this coming summer's crop.
The most important thing was the taste. I've had a lot of polenta in my life, plenty of it very good quality and from all over the world. This stuff was the best. Because it tasted like sweet corn. Everybody who tried it agreed. And everybody wanted more.
Which is reason enough to seriously up production this summer.
I can't wait.