I love popped corn. I love sweetcorn. I even love Italian polenta and American grits (essentially the same things, yet the Italian dish can't help but sound more fancy than its Yankee relative.
I'm also rather surprised we don't have an English version of ‘creamed corn', as it grows so well over here). And all of these on one plate with a fat meaty chop is a wonderfully decadent idea. But using popped corn in a dish? Well, it makes sense with all the other elements, I suppose, and it is fun, relevant and adds a certain texture. The spinach is a guilty addition, just to make sure you're eating your greens like your mother said you should.
6 x 160g French-trimmed veal cutlets (you can also use pork, beef or lamb)
Bunch of thyme, chopped
Small handful of sage leaves, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
900ml chicken or veal stock
115g quick-cook polenta
50g popping corn kernels
1 sweetcorn ‘ear', trimmed of any greenery, and kernels shaved off lengthways with a knife
Knob of butter
1tsp caster sugar
100g baby spinach leaves
Lemon wedges, to serve (optional)
Smother the veal cutlets in 50g of butter, some chopped thyme and sage, and salt and pepper, and cook under a medium grill for about four minutes on each side. Leave to rest for a good 5-10 minutes somewhere warm.
Heat the stock in a pan and season well. Whisk in the quick-cook polenta and cook out for five minutes or so, until thick and creamy. Add as much butter as you dare (100g or so), and season well with salt and pepper.
You'll need a large heavy-based pan with a lid. Heat the pan with a little oil, then add some corn kernels, less than half a layer in the bottom; they need lots of room, as the kernels expand in volume considerably when they burst and need room to fully ‘pop'.
Cover the pan (very important) and heat. The kernels will swell and start to ‘pop', bursting out of their skins, so shake the pan regularly to keep the unpopped corn moving. Once the popping sound dies out, remove the pan from the heat and carefully remove the lid. Season with some olive oil or melted butter and a good sprinkle of salt.
In a separate pan, cook the raw sweetcorn kernels with another knob of butter, the water and sugar, and season with salt and pepper. Once cooked through add the baby spinach and warm until the leaves are wilting.
Spread some of the polenta on each plate, place a veal chop on top, scatter over the spinach and sweetcorn kernels, baste everything with the leftover juices and
herbs from the cooked meat, and lastly add the warm popped corn. You could serve this with a wedge of lemon to finish.
Recipe taken from Modern British Food: Recipes from Parlour. Photography by Lauren Mclean