Thursday, March 31, 2011

Bacon-Tomato-Corn Ragout with Creamy Polenta

My sweetheart, Katherine, is a great fan of one-dish meals. Or rather one-plate meals. She is after all the  dishwasher in the household and her job is made considerably easier with a one plate dinner. Some pots and pans, of course, but not as many, and two plates which can be tucked into the dishwasher without much fuss. More importantly, though, I think that her spirit is nourished by a meal that is less complicated, by one dish with abundant flavor, such as the Bacon-Tomato-Corn Ragout that follows, on a bed of something soothing and comforting, in this case Creamy Polenta. It is straightforward and delicious. And that’s it.

10 thick bacon slices, cut crosswise into ½-inch pieces
Note: Buy the best you can like Niman Ranch or a good local producer
2 tablespoons olive oil or bacon fat
2 medium onions, sliced
Pinch of red pepper flakes or smoky hot paprika
2 cups fresh corn kernels (about 3 ears) or frozen corn if you are desperate
7 Roma tomatoes, peeled if you want, seeded, cored and coarsely chopped
Note: I tried heirloom tomatoes. They were too juicy for this dish. If you want to use them, drain them really well before adding to the ragout.
½ cup chopped fresh basil
½ cup shredded basil for garnish, see instructions
Fleur de sel or other large grain finishing salt
One recipe of Creamy Polenta

1. In a medium skillet, cook the bacon pieces over low to medium-low heat, turning to achieve uniform crispness. Transfer to a paper towel to drain.
2. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil or some bacon fat over medium heat. Add the onions and red pepper flakes or paprika, reduce the heat to medium-low and sauté until they are soft and amber, at least 20 minutes.
3. Add the corn, increase the heat to medium, and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and three-fourths of the bacon pieces and continue to cook, stirring frequently for 5 minutes. Add a little more bacon fat if you think the dish needs it for heightened flavor. Stir in the chopped basil.
4. Reheat the Creamy Polenta and make soft flat mounds in the middle of 4 warm plates. Spoon the ragout over the top. Sprinkle with the shredded basil, the remaining bacon pieces, and a sprinkling of fleur de sel or other salt.

4-5 Servings
Adapted from Sara Perry’s Everything Tastes Better with Bacon

Creamy Polenta

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