Polenta Custard Recipe

We're big fans of Uchi, well worth a trip to Austin by itself. But, you know, get tacos and stuff too. Ready to put some effort into one of the best desserts we've ever tasted? These folks cook methodically (for good reason), so break out that scale and get ready to show your sweet tooth a little love.

I love picking a color for a dessert and having every component of the dish fit that scheme. For this dish, we chose yellow. It was a play on corn, with a sorbet made from sweet corn juice, a custard with polenta for a nice texture, a tuile (our take on corn bread), and a lemon gel for a complementary flavor in the yellow scheme. It's sweet, salty, cold. I like using sorbet in our desserts. It adds a light, crisp element, which is indicative of Uchi food.

Polenta Custard Recipe
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  • 1 ounce polenta
  • 8 ounces cream
  • 2 ounces sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • kosher salt
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/4 ounce milk
  • 2 pounds fresh corn kernels
  • quantity of water for corn milk
  • 2 ounces sugar
  • 1/4 ounce white vinegar
  • 2 ounces glucose syrup
  • 1/4 ounce kosher salt
  • 1 ounce polenta
  • 4 ounces milk
  • 1/4 ounce butter
  • 1/2 ounce sugar
  • kosher salt
  • 1/8 ounce agar agar
  • 8 ounces water
  • 4 ounces sugar
  • 2 ounces lemon juice
  • salt
  • 32 ounces corn juice
  • 5 ounces sugar
  • 4 ounces butter
  • kosher salt
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Combine polenta, cream, 1 ounce sugar, vanilla beans and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and then turn heat down and let simmer. Frequently stir until polenta is fully cooked, about 15 minutes. Taste polenta and make sure bitterness has gone away. If not, continue to cook.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together 1 ounce sugar and egg yolks. Slowly temper hot polenta into mixture. Add milk to slightly loosen up batter. Pour into desired molds and bake in a water bath for about 25 minutes, or until custard has a uniform jiggle. Refrigerate to set. If needed, after custard has set, freeze to make cutting easier.
  3. Purée corn kernels with a bit of water and pass through a fine mesh sieve. Combine 8 ounces of this corn milk with remaining ingredients over low heat. Chill over an ice bath and freeze in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Reserve excess corn milk for later use.
  4. Combine ingredients and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. The corn milk will thicken with the natural starch in the corn. Once thick, remove from heat and reserve for later use.
  5. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Combine ingredients in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat. Once polenta is fully cooked, spread on a silicon baking mat in paper-thin 3-inch circles. Bake until the tuiles are golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Reserve in an airtight container for later use.
  6. In a medium-sized saucepan, sprinkle the agar agar on top of the water and let sit for 5 minutes to bloom. Add the sugar to mixture and place over medium-high heat. Stirring constantly, bring the mixture to a boil and cook for one minute. Continue to stir vigorously. Remove from heat and add the lemon juice and salt. Pour into a plastic container and refrigerate to set, about 1 hour.
  7. Once the mixture has set, place into a blender on high until the lemon gel reaches a fluid consistency. Remove from blender and refrigerate until ready for use.
  8. Place 1 ounce of corn milk along the bottom of a shallow bowl. Place dots of the lemon gel around the corn milk. Place the polenta custard on top of the corn milk. Lay a quenelle of corn sorbet on top of the polenta custard. Finish the plate with a piece of corn bread tuile.
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