One of the terrific things about being part of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program is that your hand is sometimes forced to get creative with ingredients you might not have otherwise chosen. In this instance, my inspiration was field garlic and Swiss chard. Thankfully I had some corn grits (polenta) stored in the freezer, as well as raw Parmesan cheese and smokehouse pastured beef bacon from another local source here in our desert hamlet. And, not surprisingly, there was bone broth, too–this time, pastured chicken.
So, with a little forethought to begin soaking the grits this morning in warm water with fresh water kefir, we were able to enjoy an excellent meal this evening (just perfect for an al fresco meal on the back patio before we hit the triple-digits on the thermometer!) I paired this with a fresh, simple salad of various lettuces from our garden and steamed beets, topped with balsamic vinegar, olive oil and chopped garlic.
Parmesan Polenta with Bacon and Greens
Serves 6 as an entree
To prepare polenta:
- 1 1/2 Corn Grits (Polenta)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Sea Salt
- 2 cups warm, filtered, dechlorinated Water (approximately 105 degrees Fahrenheit)
- 1 cup fresh Water Kefir
Combine all ingredients in a glass or ceramic bowl and stir well to incorporate. There should be about 1/8″-1/4″ of the water/water kefir over the top of the polenta. Cover and store in a warm spot (I set mine on top of the yogurt maker–turned on–to help maintain a gentle, warm heat to encourage mild fermentation of the grain. You could also set the bowl in a dehydrator set around 100 degrees Fahrenheit, or in an ice chest or oven–turned off–with a couple of bottles filled with hot water.) Allow to rest undisturbed for at least eight hours, until you see the little bubbles of fermentation and there is a mild tart scent. When this point has been reached, begin preparing the rest of the recipe.
For the remainder of the recipe you’ll need:
- 4-5 cups Swiss Chard, sliced in 1/2″ strips
- 5-6 slices of pastured Beef Bacon or Pork Bacon, cut in 1/2″ slices
- 3 cups Chicken Broth, plus 1 additional cup, heated
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
- 1/2 cup Field Garlic, chopped in 1/2″ pieces, or 4 Scallions, chopped in 1/2″ pieces with 3-4 cloves Garlic, minced finely
- Sea Salt and Black Pepper to taste
- Cherry or Plum Tomatoes, sliced, for garnish
- Freshly-chopped Basil Leaves and Lemon wedges, for garnish
In a 5-6 quart pot, combine soaked polenta with 3 cups of chicken broth over a medium heat and bring to a mild simmer, stirring constantly from the bottom. In about five minutes, you’ll notice the grits have firmed up substantially and the grain has softened. Stir for another five minutes or so and turn off the heat.
In a separate, large pan over medium heat, begin cooking the bacon. Once it has begun to release its fat into the pan, add the field garlic or scallions/garlic, stirring occasionally to keep all ingredients from burning. After a few minutes, once the garlic/onions have softened, add the Swiss chard and incorporate well into the mix. Keep cooking and stirring periodically, until most of the moisture has evaporated off and the chard has softened. Turn off heat and return to the polenta.
Resume a low heat under the polenta, which will have stiffened while cooling. Add the Parmesan cheese and pour in an additional cup of hot chicken broth. Stir all ingredients well to incorporate and to soften the polenta. Spoon in the bacon and greens mixture and mix well into the polenta. Remove from the heat and serve immediately with a garnish of fresh, sliced tomatoes, a sprinkling of basil leaves and a healthy squirt of lemon juice.
Store any remaining in a covered glass or ceramic bowl for up to three days in the refrigerator.