Feb 21, 2010

More polenta recipes

Some of you don't dig cornmeal, and I totally get that. I didn't eat tomatoes and artichokes until I was 12, and now they're among my favorite vegetables. I'm still however nervous around liver and tripe, and anything involving innards, I am still learning to eat. So the polenta non-lovers will forgive me for this.

This post is for all you polenta advocates. A few days ago I posted a tomato sauce with short ribs and sausage as a polenta dressing. Today I want to tell you about how they do it in Modena, Val d'Aosta and a small village in Abruzzo called Castel del Monte.

1. Polenta Pasticciata Modenese

Modena's own Formula One polenta topping, better than a Ferrari: it races straight from the mouth to the thighs without even a pit stop.

First of all, make your basic polenta by following the steps illustrated in the recipe I posted a while back.

While someone takes a shift at stirring, assemble:

100 g (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
150 g (3/4 cup) Parmigiano, grated
200 g (1 cup) Gorgonzola cheese

Once the polenta is done and ladled onto wooden plates, fold in fistfuls of grated Parmigiano, flakes of butter and slices of sharp Gorgonzola.

Mix well, devour and thank God, Mother Earth, Buddha, Visnu and the entire Greek Pantheon.

Image © Roccoeisuoifornelli

2. Polenta alla Valdostana

Polenta of the taragna whole grain variety, is coarse and speckled with darker grains.

Again, begin by making your basic polenta by following the steps illustrated in the recipe I posted here, but let the taragna become a little more firm than your regular cornmeal polenta.

Image © Buttalapasta

While a kind soul takes over the stirring spoon, assemble:

200 g (1 cup) or more Fontina cheese cut in strips
50 g (1/4 cup) unsalted butter 

Once the polenta is thick and spooned onto wooden plates, toss in the cheese and butter, but beware: the heat of the polenta will melt the fondant Fontina. The effect could bring tears of joy to your eyes.

3. Polenta ai Finferli

These fairly bright yellowish orange wild mushrooms that are known by a variety of names, including Gallinacci or Galletti in Italy–and Chanterelles in France and the English speaking world–are among my favorite spores along with the mighty Porcini and the delicate and almost extinct Ovoli. This is a tasty basic sauce from Abruzzo, made with wild mushrooms that can easily dress fettuccine or polenta alike.

Begin by making your basic polenta by following the steps illustrated in the recipe I posted here.

You can make the mushroom sauce in advance, or on the day, provided you serve it piping hot spooned over the just-made polenta.
1 kg (2.2 lbs) finferli/chanterelle mushrooms
3 garlic cloves
A small bunch of Italian flatleaf parsley
100 g (1/2 cup) butter
Extra virgin olive oil

Carefully rinse the mushrooms with water, cut the stems and trumpet caps in half and put them in a skillet with the butter, oil and garlic. Cook at moderate heat, stirring often. When the mushrooms are cooked soft and still moist, remove from heat, add salt, and sprinkle with chopped parsley and, if you like, a few shavings of Parmigiano.

Once the polenta is done and ladled onto wooden plates, spoon generous amounts of the mushroom salsa on top. Pour yourself a glass of robust red wine, sit comfortably and blissfully enjoy your meal.

"The trouble with eating Italian food is that 
five or six days later you’re hungry again."
~ George Miller


  1. Lola, I am looking forward to that glass of red wine...

    Thank you for posting a vegetarian recipe, we are so overlooked by some chefs, it seems... Many thanks!

    Love to you and yours and I love what you have done with your beautiful spot here, and congrats on the new job - Those holidays look intriguing, if sadly a tad beyond my miniscule budget :(

    Much love, Fhi x

  2. Gosh I don't which one I'd choose first - they're all delicious. It's hard to find that taragna polenta here so I always bring some back with me. And chanterelles aren't always available either - so that means I'm going for the gorgonzola!!

  3. mmm....definitely starting with the last one...

  4. Yum, yum. Love the sound of the gorgonzola one!
    And I love the George Miller quote!

  5. More varieties than anywhere else! Lovely. I dig the mushroom delight!

  6. mmmm what a yummy recipe! I've never had anything like it before. Looks delicious.

  7. These all look absolutely mouth-watering and scrumptious. Can't wait to give them a try!

  8. Oh Eleonora,
    how could you!
    Here I am, sitting at my desk,
    no food whatever in the vicinity,
    hungry as a wolf,
    licking three virtual toppings of the screen! ;-)

    They do look very good, though. :-)

  9. I am starting with the Gorgonzola and working my way through the post. Mesmerized and hungry.

  10. (puts hand up and clears throat)

    Umm, do you know any tasty low calorie delicious meals, Lola?


  11. Thank you very much for that. Chanterelles or kukkaseinid as they are known here, grow prodigiously in the late summer and early autumn. We will be giving a weekend seminar at the manor house where I work, on picking wild mushrooms and cooking with them. I hope you don't mind if I use your recipe - properly credited of course. It looks delicious.

  12. Polenta alla Valdostana? Who knew! Love that quote by George Miller!

  13. I love polenta and can never seem to get enough. They all look fabulous, but I'm starting with the mushroom sauce-first I need to save up to afford the chanterelles!

  14. Hi there Lola

    finally I have a computer and I have an extended holiday to enjoy it, so I can catch up on your delicious posts...and I'm looking forward to that..

    Happy days

  15. Just discovered your blog...love it. I especially love these polenta dishes you have shared. I'm looking forward to trying them. We were in Rome last spring and will be back soon, hopefully.

  16. Oh YUM! i love polenta, i don't think mine looks like yours though. I'll try one of your recipes, perhaps number two first!
    ♥ lori

  17. I'll eat anything with Gorgonzola on it :-)

    These recipes all look fabulous. And the George Miller quote is perfect.

    Hope all is well with you. Thanks for the recipes!


  18. Delicious food and writing. Inspiring stuff for all the senses thank you.