Sun Dried Tomato and Cheese Polenta topped with a Bolognese sauce
Served with a Side of Broccoli rabe in oil and garlic.
Since we are on the subject of Italian food and preparations that will make your arms tired lets talk about polenta. Polenta is made all around the world but the Italian version is most widely known. Around the turn of the century there was a problem with polenta. People were eating all of the time because the corn meal was readily available and cheap. In these improvised times many people took to eating only polenta. The problem is that the vitamins in the corn meal was locked inside and no manner of cooking could make them digestible. Therefore people were suffering from severe vitamin deficiencies. This led to many people becoming mentally unstable as their brain was not getting the vitamins it needs. There is an old Italian saying; "pazzo dalla polenta" translates to "crazy from the polenta.
Polenta does not take much skill but it does take time cause much like risotto you have to stir it constantly.
Any coarse ground yellow corn meal will work for this recipe but it is best to use the Italian variety. Instant is OK if you can find it and it goes much quicker but the real stuff works much better.
INGREDIENTS: For 6-8 servings.
- 2 cups polenta (or coarse ground yellow corn meal.)
- 1/2 cup sun dried tomato chopped (optional)
- 4 cups chicken, veal or pork stock.
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese.
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 4 cloves of garlic minced
- Sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
- Vegetable oil for frying
Put a large enough stock pot on a burner set to high. Pour in the stock, sun dried tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Then pour in the polenta meal. While stirring constantly bring it to a boil and then turn the burner down to low.
Simmer on low while stirring constantly. If it gets to thick too fast add some water. If it is too thin add some more corn meal. Keep stirring as it thickens and the starches release. after about 20 to 30 mins. It will be VERY thick. So thick that it is said a wooden spoon will stand up in it. This is hard to do if your pot is shallow though. Stir in the Parmesan cheese now.
Oil an 8" x 12" casserole or the like and then turn out the thickened polenta into it. Smooth out the top and make sure there are no air bubbles or pockets in the polenta cake. Set this to cool on the counter and then cover with palstic wrap and put it into the fridge to cool and set.
After it has completely set carefully turn the casserole over onto a cutting board and let the polenta drop out.
Slice it into 1/2"-3/4" thick pieces and set them aside.
Get a fry pan hot over medium high heat and add about 3/4" deep of oil. Then carefully drop in the polenta pieces. Fry until golden brown then flip and brown on the other side. Place the fried pieces on a paper towel to drain.
To serve, plate them and top them with your favorite sauce. Grandma Capozzoli's tomato gravy would be awesome but just a quick tomato and basil sauce would do the trick.
Goes great with sauteed spinach or other greens or just a simple salad and fresh fruit. Very authentic old world Italian!