NARRATOR: In a world … where your staples … are always rice and potatoes … (and sometimes couscous) … comes a side dish … that no one considered … and only one man … can bring it home …
We cut to an urban kitchen, where young KRIS is freaking out over what to pair with Chicken Provencal.
KRIS: Nooooo! (slams counter) I don’t know what to serve with this. My starches all seem so … boring. Isn’t there anyone who can help me? Anyone? (begins to weep)
Cook's Illustrated guru Christopher Kimball flies in through the kitchen window. He looks like Superman, but skinnier and slightly dorkier. Oh, also - the bowtie.
CHRISTOPHER KIMBALL: Never fear, young…ish lady. It is I, Cook’s Illustrated guru Christopher Kimball! I will take your meal back to my secret Test Kitchen Headquarters, analyze it, and devise a solution!
KRIS: (blowing nose) Oh, thank you, Christopher Kimball! But how long *SNOOORRF* will this take you? Seriously, I’ve got to put dinner on the table sometime tonight.
CHRISTOPHER KIMBALL: Uh … 10 minutes?
We see CHRISTOPHER KIMBALL leaping out the window and flying speedily over every conceivable landscape.
NARRATOR: With the pressure … of dinner upon him … can Christopher Kimball … find the answer … and make it back … to Kris’ Brooklyn Kitchen … in time?
CHRISTOPHER KIMBALL lands at Test Kitchen Headquarters, and is immediately accompanied by NONDESCRIPT CHOPPING LADY. We see them furiously mixing dozens of ingredients, stirring hundreds of bowls, and licking innumerable spoons.
CHRISTOPHER KIMBALL: DANGIT! Won’t this ever come together? We’re running out of time!
NONDESCRIPT CHOPPING LADY: I know, Christopher. (gazes longingly) Oh, how I know.
A frantic cooking montage begins.
NARRATOR: With the weight of the world … let me rephrase that … with the weight of dinner … upon him … Christopher Kimball must reconsider … everything he holds dear …
End montage. CHRISTOPHER KIMBALL and NONDESCRIPT CHOPPING LADY are sitting on the floor of Test Kitchen Headquarters, covered in flour and looking defeated.
CHRISTOPHER KIMBALL: All these years in the kitchen. So many meals. So many expertly executed dinners. Nondescript Chopping Lady, I just … don’t know. We're doomed.
NONDESCRIPT CHOPPING LADY: What about polenta?
CHRISTOPHER KIMBALL and NONDESCRIPT SHOPPING LADY meet eyes, hold their stare for a second, and then turn to the camera. Our picture fades to black. The title graphics for “Polenta: The Movie” appear onscreen.
NARRATOR: Polenta. The Movie. When the chips are down, the corn comes out. Coming this Fall.
(Quick end note: I’m finding Cook's Illustrated Best 30-Minute Recipe tends to make serving sizes on the large side. This polenta could spread itself to five or six people, especially if you have kids. I did calculations for both four and six servings, just like last weeks Chicken Provencal, to be safe.)
Cook’s Illustrated Quick Polenta
Adapted from Cook's Illustrated Best 30-Minute Recipe.
4 cups water
1 cup instant polenta
2 T unsalted butter
¼ c grated Parmesan cheese
1) Throw out the polenta box (removing polenta first). Don't even look at the directions.
2) In a large pan over medium-high heat, bring water and 1 teaspoon salt to a simmer. Very, very slowly stir polenta into water. Drop heat to low. Cover and cook about 5 minutes, until polenta gets a smooth texture, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and uncover. Add butter and cheese. Stir until well-mixed. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve but quick.
Approximate Calories, Fat, and Price per Serving
4 servings: 199 calories, 8 g fat, $0.42
6 servings: 132.5, 5 g fat, $0.28
4 cups water: negligible calories and fat, FREE
1 cup instant polenta: 505 calories, 2.3 g fat, $0.99
2 T unsalted butter: 204 calories, 23 g fat, $0.19
¼ c grated Parmesan cheese: 86 calories, 5.7 g fat, $0.52
TOTAL: 795 calories, 31 g fat, $1.69
PER SERVING (TOTAL/4): 199 calories, 8 g fat, $0.42
PER SERVING (TOTAL/6): 132.5 calories, 5 g fat, $0.28