Our thanks go out to Tim Christena, chef at SoNapa Grille in Maitland, for an excellent kick-off to our Healthy Chefs series of cooking demonstrations!
Chef Tim covered topics ranging from choosing the right vegetable oil to dicing an onion properly, without wasting any or having it colla
pse in your hand midway through. (We even learned how to make a perfectly steamed pot of rice, and that wasn’t on the menu!)
Here’s Chef Tim’s recipe for polenta, which he served soft with a basic red sauce.
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup diced red onion
1/4 cup minced garlic
1 cup yellow corn meal
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1/3 cup shredded mozzarella
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Fresh basil (amount is your preference)
Salt and pepper to taste
Start off by measuring out all the ingredients first. Once you have all your ingredients measured out, place the pot you will be using in the stove on high. After the pot gets hot add the oil, onions, and garlic; cook until the onions become translucent. Once the onions are translucent add the chicken stock to the pot and deglaze.* After you deglaze, add the heavy cream and bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling you can start to add the cornmeal in 1/4 cup increments. As you add the cornmeal make sure you whisk it in to the liquid thoroughly before adding more. Once all the cornmeal has been incorporated cook the mixture for about five minutes to ensure the cornmeal has been cooked through. At this point you can start to add in your cheese. If you use the grated parm make sure to add it in small increments like the cornmeal to prevent grittiness. After that add the basil and finish seasoning to taste.
To make this dish more healthy you can substitute the heavy cream for wine, skim milk, more stock, or even half and half. The key is to keep it to a 3 to 1 ratio, liquid to cornmeal. You can also leave out the cheese or sub it for a different one, like a low fat cheese. You can also substitute the oil for healthier versions like coconut oil. And feel free to add ingredients or take some away. Make it your own recipe to suit the needs of your household or friends you will be serving.
*scrape up those delicious browned bits that may be stuck to the bottom of the pan to get their flavor back into the dish