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Polenta concia

From the Piedmont region in the north of Italy, polenta concia is translated as "messed-up polenta." In this recipe, the cooked polenta is layered like a lasagne with fontina cheese, heavy cream, nutmeg, and mushrooms. Serves 8 as a first course.

FOR THE POLENTA

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 medium onions, chopped

Salt, to taste

7 cups whole milk

1 2/3 cups fine or coarse yellow cornmeal

1. In a large, flame-proof casserole, melt the butter and cook the onions with a generous pinch of salt over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until they are softened.

2. Add the milk and bring to scalding point (it should not boil).

3. In a 3-quart microwave-safe bowl, combine the milk mixture with the cornmeal.4. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high power for 25 to 35 minutes, stirring every 6 minutes, or until the polenta is creamy.

FOR THE LAYERS

Butter (for the dish)

2 ounces dried porcini mushrooms

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 pound button mushrooms, thinly sliced

Salt and pepper, to taste

3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 cup heavy cream

6 ounces fontina(Valdostana preferred), thinly sliced

1. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.

2. Soak the porcini mushrooms in warm water to cover for 20 minutes.

3. In a skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter and cook the sliced mushrooms with salt and pepper to taste over medium heat, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Drain the porcini mushrooms, add them to the skillet, and continue cooking for 5 minutes more.

4. Spread one-third of the polenta in the buttered dish. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, one-third of the nutmeg, one-third of the cream, and one-third of the cheese. Add 2 more layers.

5. Spread the mushrooms on the top layer and dot them with the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Bake the polenta for 30 minutes or until it is bubbling at the sides. Cut into squares to serve.

Adapted from Michele Topor

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