Messy polenta: polenta pasticciata

  • Preparation Time40 mins
  • Cooking Time90 mins
  • Serves4
  • DifficultyMedium

For the messy polenta

3 tbsps extra-virgin olive oil
1 recipe polenta, spread out to a layer 1cm thick and cooled, recipe follows
30g butter, plus more for buttering the pan
1 1/2 tbsps dried porcini mushrooms, reconstituted in hot water for 20 minutes then drained
125ml dry white wine
4 peeled whole plum tomatoes from can, drained
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 bunch fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped to yield 2 tbsps
1 small celery stalk, cut into 0.5cm dice
1 small carrot, chopped into 0.5cm dice
1 Spanish onion, chopped into 0.5cm dice
110g chicken giblets (liver, heart, etc)
110g veal breast meat, cut into 5cm cubes
50g freshly grated parmesan cheese

For the polenta

1L water
2 tbsps salt
200g polenta or cornmeal
For the messy polenta:
1) In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat the olive oil until hot but not smoking.

2) Add the veal pieces and giblets and cook until evenly browned on all sides, about 10 to 15 minutes.

3) 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.

4) 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.

5) Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas 6.

6) Slice the cooled polenta into 1cm squares. Lightly butter a 23 by 23 by 8cm glass or ceramic baking pan. Use 1/3 of the polenta to cover the bottom of the pan with a layer of squares lain side-by-side. Cover with 1/2 of the veal and mushroom ragu, then top with a layer of 1/4 of the parmesan. Begin again with another layer of polenta squares, topped with 1/2 of the chicken liver mixture, topped with 1/4 of the parmesan. Repeat from the first layer of polenta, ending with parmesan atop the chicken liver ragu. Grate some more parmesan over the top, if desired.

7) Place the prepared casserole in the oven and bake until the dish is heated through and the parmesan on top is brown and bubbly, about 20 minutes. Serve immediately.

For the polenta:
1) In a large 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.

2) Switch to a wooden spoon, pull off heat and continue to stir until thick as paste.

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