Savory, Spreadable Polenta
5 cups water
1 cup medium grain cornmeal
1 tsp salt, plus more to to taste
4-8 tbsp butter, unsalted, cut into ½” pieces
¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan
to taste freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp rendered chicken fat, or, schmaltz (optional)
1. Bring water to a boil in medium saucepan. Add salt, and bring back to boil.
2. Slowly pour in the cornmeal, stirring with a whisk to avoid clumps. Cook while stirring until mixture begins to thicken, about 2 minutes.
3. Turn heat to low. Cook for about 35-45 minutes, whisking every 5-10 minutes. If polenta thickens before fully cooked, add in hot water by the ¼ cup to soften back to a spreadable texture.
4. Taste for texture. If any crunchy bits remain, add more water and cook further. When polenta is toothsome yet tender, take off the heat. Add butter and stir to combine. Start with 4 tablespoons, use more if you prefer. If you opt to use the schmaltz, stir it in at this time. Then, add the cheese and combine. Taste and adjust seasoning.
5. Use a ladle to pour 1 cup of polenta in a shallow bowl. Top with the fiddleheads, roast chicken, and herb sauce.
Herby Brown Butter Fiddleheads
Serves 3 generously, or 4 more reasonably
1 lb. Fiddlehead ferns, tightly closed, in great condition
4 tbsp Butter, unsalted
1 sprig Rosemary
1 sprig Thyme
1-2 tbsp Juice from flesh of preserved lemon, seeds removed
to taste Salt and pepper
1. Clean the fiddleheads. Cut off about 1/4 inch at the bottom and trim any inedible coarse bits. Submerge the fiddleheads in very cold water agitating with your hands to knock off any dirt and grime.
2. Bring a medium pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Meanwhile set aside a large bowl filled with ice water. Add the prepared fiddleheads and cook for 2 to 3 minutes or just until tender. Pull the fiddleheads out of the water and submerge in the ice bath. Drain and set aside to dry.
3. To a large sauté pan, add the butter and herbs and cook over medium heat. Swirl the butter around the pan to melt evenly. Watch closely, because as the milk solids separate, they will toast very quickly, and could burn. The butter should begin to bubble and foam up. Remove the herbs.
4. Add the dry fiddleheads and toss in the browned butter. Take off the heat, add the preserved lemon juice. Serve immediately.
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