Polenta with Corn and Thyme

Polenta!  I think of it as the neglected side dish.  Sure, potatoes and pasta and rice are all wonderful in their ways, but they get all the love and attention, side dish-wise, and that poor old box of cornmeal sits neglected on the shelf day after day…so here I am to speak up for polenta in all its easy, creamy, dreamy wonderfulness.

Basic polenta is a snap to make, and this time of year you can take it to a whole new level with a couple of ears of the gorgeous Jersey corn that is everywhere, along with a handful of fresh herbs.

Here’s the basic drill: grab that lonely box of cornmeal (you can use any old kind, just make sure it’s the fine-ground kind.  Otherwise you will be making grits, which are also wonderful, but we’re after polenta here!).  Boil up some water mixed with milk, and whisk, whisk, whisk in the cornmeal.   You’ll want to stir it for about five minutes until it is smooth and creamy.  Now comes the part that takes it from good to great: toss in about one cup of fresh corn kernels, some butter and a handful of grated Parmesan cheese.  A little salt and pepper to taste, and finally, about a tablespoon of fresh thyme.

Now THAT’S a side dish…move on over, mashed potatoes.  The polenta is in town!

Polenta with Corn and Thyme
Serves: 4 servings
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1½ cup water
  • ½ cup fine cornmeal
  • 1 cup fresh corn kernels
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Coarse salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
  1. Bring milk and water to a boil in medium pot. Pour cornmeal into pot in a slow steady stream, whisking briskly. Whisk until mixture is smooth and creamy, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add in corn, butter and cheese and stir for one more minute. Season to taste. Stir in thyme and serve immediately.


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  1. says

    You have just affirmed the idea that I should indeed make polenta tonight to go under my oxtail stewa…and I just happen to have ears of corn in the fridge and oodles of fresh lusciously green thyme in the garden!

    • Kate says

      Oh my gosh, you must have polenta as soon as possible – it is the best!! And I think you’ll love this recipe as a first polenta experience. :)

  2. ruthie says

    It’s been a while for polenta and me, but I’ve felt it nudging at the back of my mind. So, either you’re reading my mind — again! — or I’m reading yours. 😉

    And throwing some corn in is always a good idea. 😉

  3. says

    I made this for the first time on the day after you posted it and it is AMAZING. Total hit. I’ve made it many times since, and I’m having it for dinner right now! Small bowl of polenta, glass of wine and a salad! Love! Thanks 😀

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