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Here ya go, Judy. REC: Baked Polenta with Tomato and Dried Mushroom Sauce

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Joined: Dec 14, 2005

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Posted to Thread #8899 at 5:02 pm on Dec 3, 2007

POLENTA AL FORNO
from <i>Italian Family Cooking</i> by Anne Casale

Double Recipe of Tomato and Dried Mushroom Sauce (below)
1 recipe for polenta (below) chilled and cut into 1-inch thick slices (I found 3/4-inch thickness better)
1 cup freshly grated Parmagiano cheese, plus more for serving

Preheat oven to 375*F with the rack in the center.

Butter a 9" x 13" baking dish. Arrange a single layer of polenta slices and spread an even layer of sauce on top. Spinkle with half the cheese. Repeat layers.

Bake until cheese is thoroughly melted and top forms a light crust, about 35 minutes.

Remove from oven and let rest 10 minutes before serving

Cut into squares and serve with remaining sauce and additional freshly grated Parmagiano cheese.

TOMATO AND DRIED MUSHROOM SAUCE
<i>The pungent flavor of dried mushrooms combined with tomatoes goes particularly well with fedelini or fresh pasta</i>

1/2 oz. dried porcini mushrooms
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 Tbs. butter
3 oz. pancetta or prosciutto, finely diced
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
1 can (35 oz.) Italian plum tomatoes, coarsley chopped, juice included. (I use 28-oz can and a little water)
1/2 Tbs. minced fresh basil or 1 teaspoon crumbled dried basil (I use more)
1/2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Soak dried mushrooms in 1 cup warm water for 30 minutes. Drain, reserving liquid. Chop mushrooms finely.

In a large saute pan, heat olive oil over medium heat until haze forms, then add butter. Add pancetta or prosciutto and cook, stirring constantly, until soft but not brown, about 2 minutes. Turn heat to low and add shallots. Cook, stirring constantly, until lightly golden, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and mushrooms. Pour in mushroom liquid, leaving behind any sediment. Add seasonings and simmer over low heat, stirring frequently, until slightly thickened, about 35 minutes.

BASIC RECIPE FOR POLENTA

2 cups enriched yellow cornmeal
2 cups cold water
6 cups water
1 Tbs. salt

In a medium bowl, mix cornmeal and 2 cups cold water with a fork until you have a smooth paste

In a heavy 5-qt. saucepan, bring 6 cups of water to a boil, then add salt.

Add the cornmeal paste to the boiling water, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Bring mixture to a boil, then turn heat to low. Cook the polenta, stirring frequently to keep the mixture smooth, until very thick, about 30 minutes. If some lumps form during cooking, push them against the sides of the pan. When polenta is cooked, the mixture will come away from the sides of the pan and should be so thick that a 6-inch wooden spoon will stand up unsupported in the middle.

Cooked polenta can be poured onto a platter and served immediatley with a tomato-based sauce, or it can be poured into a well-buttered bowl (a 3-qt. souffle dish works well) covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated overnight. Unmold chilled onto a wooden cutting board and slice. It is now ready to be baked, fried or broiled.

(Note: This recipe uses more water to cornmeal than others but it makes a very tender polenta. I've noticed that the polenta takes on a translucent appearance when it is finally almost done. It's worth the whole 30 minutes of simmering and stirring.)


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