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 simply don't do. 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, beter 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 here.
While someone takes a shift at stirring, assemble:
- 100gr (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
- 150 gr (3/4 cup) Parmigiano, grated
- 200 gr (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.
Image © Roccoeisuoifornelli
Mix well, devour and thank God, Mother Earth, Buddha, Visnu and the entire Greek Pantheon.
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 gr (1 cup) or more Fontina cheese cut in strips
- 50 gr (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 gr (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