Polenta Pasticciata

  • A fairly firm polenta made with a pound of cornmeal, or two one-pound packages of polenta
  • 1 cup melted unsalted butter
  • 1/4 pound veal breast meat, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup chicken giblets (liver, heart, etc)
  • 1 Spanish onion, chopped into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1 small carrot, chopped into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1 small celery stalk, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1/4 bunch fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped to yield 2 tablespoons
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 peeled whole plum tomatoes from can, drained
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dried porcini mushrooms, reconstituted in hot water for 20 minutes then drained
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
How to make the Polenta pasticciata:

For the ragout:

In a 12 to 14-inch saucepan over medium heat, heat the olive oil until hot but not smoking. Add the veal pieces and giblets and cook until evenly browned on all sides, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add the onion, carrot, celery and parsley and cook until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the tomatoes and the wine and break up the tomatoes with the back of a spoon. Adjust the seasoning. Lower the heat to let the mixture simmer gently until the wine evaporates, about 10 minutes. In the meantime, roughly chop the reconstituted mushrooms. Once the ragu has simmered for 10 minutes, add the chopped mushrooms and allow the mixture to continue simmering for another 20 minutes.

Prepare the polenta: In a 3-quart saucepan, heat water and salt until boiling. Drizzle in polenta in a thin stream, whisking constantly, until all polenta is incorporated and mixture begins to thicken. Switch to a wooden spoon, pull off heat and continue to stir until thick as paste.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Once the polenta is done, let it sit for a few minutes, then slice it. Butter an ovenproof serving dish about 14 inches in diameter and interlayer polenta and ragout, beginning with the polenta then top with a layer of 1/4 of the Parmigiano-Reggiano. Once all is used up, sprinkle the melted butter over the top and put it through a hot oven (400 F, 195 C) for a few minutes, until it browns.

A Rosso di Franciacorta would be nice with this, as would a Valpolicella Classico Superiore.

Serves 4

Regional recipe from Lombardy