La Flore des Environs de Paris
Introduction a La Flore des Environs de Paris

Corn on the cob is about the most perfect thing to eat on Labor Day weekend. Still, this simple surprising puree made with fresh kernels cut off the cob is a fine rival. A small amount of heavy cream and grated Parmigiano bind with the milky corn juices to achieve the texture of an ethereal polenta with a very pure, concentrated corn flavor. It is pure comfort food, summer-style. I have been known to eat it as a meal on evenings alone, made with 1 or 2 stray ears from a corn-on-the-cob feast.

The polenta makes a lovely side dish or bed for grilled steak, pork, fish or shrimp. Thinned further with cream, with half the Parmiagiano, it becomes a sauce, say, for salmon or grilled chicken. If you happen to have some falling-off-the-bone slow-cooked meat – barbeque is perfect– shred it and spoon it over as you would regular polenta; sauteed or grilled wild mushrooms would also be great. It would make a fine breakfast porridge with butter and fresh pepper…or without the Parmigiano, with blueberries and a drizzle of maple syrup.

The polenta is best made with tender summer corn whose kernels have not developed much fibrous starch as stored corn does.

Recipe: Fresh Corn Polenta

Serves 4

6 large ears fresh corn
2 or 3 tablespoons heavy cream or crème fraiche
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1 or 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Pull the husks off the corn and remove any silk that still clings. Place a box grater on a large sheet pan, or in a large bowl. Using the side with the largest holes, grate the corn kernels until you reach the cob. You should have about 2 ½ cups.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over moderate heat. Add the corn puree, 1/4 cup water and salt. Simmer until all the liquid is absorbed and the mixture has become very thick, about 6 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream and the cheese and fresh pepper to taste, and butter if desired. Adjust seasoning. Serve at once or keep warm in a bain marie.


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