In these first two photos I have just finished baking a batch of polenta, bound and enriched by my parmesan broth. Adorned with nothing more than black pepper, this gruel was plainly the most luscious version I’d ever cooked. Good enough to justify hoarding all those Reggiano rinds! Because I had plans for this corny slab, I managed to limit my portion that morning to a small sampling. Destined for the limelight in the layers of a catch-all casserole, my polenta plank rested overnight before joining forces with an ensemble cast of leftovers and fresh local flavors.
A hefty Texas-grown leek ($2.99 a bundle at Central Market—inspect the tag for provenance), sliced and sauteed with local young garlic, (available from Montesino Farm and Hairston Creek Farm at Sunset Valley Farmers Market) and seasoned with fresh backyard sage and thyme, provided an aromatic foundation for chopped and browned Kitchen Pride cremini mushrooms plus roasted local spaghetti squash from the freezer (that’s the end of that!). In its gobbling finale, a generous helping of the last of the poached turkey leg meated its match. Moistened with a bit of broth (freezer clear-out again) and greenly flecked with fresh Texas-grown parsley, the fleshy hash stratified between sheets of polenta, richly laminated with lots of shredded local cheese (I love Full Quiver Farm’s sharp cheddar. Look for their booths at the Austin Farmers Market and Barton Creek Farmers Market.)
I baked the mess until browned and bubbling. After a 10-minute eternity, we dug on in. A taste of winter on a wintry first day of spring.
Happy Vernal Equinox!