I've been on a polenta kick lately. Obsession really. I'm obsessed with getting polenta the right color, the right consistency, the right taste and texture. And once I mastered that (yes, I'm a Polenta Master now) I began experimenting with different flavors and ingredients. And thus this amazing polenta dish was born.
I used mizuna (which now you know all about) for this and loved the way it wilted in the polenta. The texture became like cooked spinach -- smooth in texture but still a bite to it -- and the color turned a beautiful dark green that stood against the golden polenta just wonderfully. The flavor was slightly bitter -- nothing terribly aggressive as say a kale or mustard green -- but definately more bitter than sweet spinach and milder than peppery arugula. If you don't have mizuna, you can certainly substitute any one of the aformentioned greens as well.
In terms of cheese, I used my latest obession in the hard cheese department: Sapore del Piave. Made in Veneto, Italy (for those of you who watch Real Housewives, that would be where Romana also has her pinos grigio grown, not that she can properly pronounce it...thanks Countess! What would we do without your amateur sophistication and even worse pronounciation of the fucking region than Ramona's? But I digress...) ...and looks like parmesan cheese but has a decidedly sweeter note. A cow's milk cheese, it's still nutty in flavor like parmesan, and has a very, very similar texture, but does have a slightly sweeter note than parmesan and definately moreso than romano. (How do we pronounce that one properly countess? "RO-man-o?" No, didn't think so. Sorry...back to the blog)...
I specifically chose to pair up the mildly bitter mizuna with the slightly sweeter sapore so the end result is a balanced flavor. You can certainly use parmesan or romano for this as well, but if you do I'd strongly suggest then going the spinach or arugala route for the green, definately sapore or parmesan if you do kale or mustard greens.
This dish is best served piping hot and serves 4.
Polenta with Mizuna and Sapore de Piave
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup half n half
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup medium-fine ground polenta
1 cup mizuna (raw)
1/4 cup freshly grated sapore de piave cheese
Place the broth and half n half, and salt in a pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat and add the polenta all at once and immediately start whisking. Cook polenta on low heat, whisking constantly, for 20-30 minutes. You want the polenta to be creamy and cooked through and not gritty. If after 20 minutes the polenta still tastes gritty, add 1/2 cup more broth and cook until creamy.
Once desired texture is achieved, add the mizuna all at once and switch to a wooden spoon, and mix in. The mizuna will wilt in the polenta within 2 minutes. Add the cheese and mix in to combine. Serve piping hot.