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Gia-Gina Across the Pond

So I've decided to follow my husband to his native Italy. Follow our adventures as we eat, drink, travel, adapt to and explore this remarkable country. Part food blog, part photo blog but mostly my rants and raves. After our two years in Italy, we relocated across the Atlantic "pond" and are back in the States.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

My First Polenta

Before today, I had never made polenta before. I've eaten lots of it, soft and liquidy like porriage, stiff and firm like good mashed potatoes and everything in between with cheese, with buckwheat instead of corn; you name it. Demetrio tells me polenta is traditionally eaten with a braised meat of some sort, usually a short rib or shank bone. Who am I to argue? I used my mom's old braising technique and Deme showed me how to make the polenta.

To stew the meat:

4 large rib chops or other giant cut of meat with the bone included
1 carrot, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 onion, diced
1 15 oz can of chopped tomatoes, or make your own
1/2 C. red wine
pinch of sugar
salt and pepper

1. Make the sure the meat is at room temp. generously season the meat with salt and pepper.
2. Add some oil to a deep pan and heat on medium until almost smoking, brown the meat on all sides until dark brown but not burnt. When you have browned all 4 pieces, set aside.
3. Add more oil if needed to the pan and turn the heat down to low. Add the onion, carrot, celery, pinch of sugar and herbs and saute on low until the onions are translucent, about 5-10 minutes, deglaze with the wine and scrape the pan clean of brown bits.
4. Take the meat pieces and arrange them so they fit rather snugly in the same pan if it is small enough or another smaller pan. Pour the vegetable and wine mixture over the meat and add the tomatoes. If the meat pieces are not submerged in the liquid from the tomatoes add up to 1/2 a cup of broth. Cover, bring to a boil and let simmer on low for at least 2 hours or until a meat is tender and falling off the bone.

Note: The tight fit is meant to keep the meat under liquid, let it cook slowly without much stirring. This way the vegetables and meat do not don't turn to mush. If there is still too much liquid for your taste after the meat is done. Remove the meat, cover and let rest and then reduce the sauce to more of a gravy.

For the polenta we used a quick cooking mix that took about 5 minutes to prepare. I was concerned about knowing the right texture but the recipe proportions were on the bag. I have yet to try the "real" polenta that takes 40 minutes or so to cook.

Deme had cheese on his meat and polenta. I had it just plain and both tasted great.

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At 11:16 PM, Anonymous Nicky said...

Hi Gia-Gina,
too funny, I also never prepared polenta myself - but bought some last week to do so very soon... Your results look delicious and inspiring ... ;)

At 11:40 PM, Anonymous Laurie said...

at the Mercati biologici (every sunday in December in Piazza della Citta') and lots of other spots in Torino you can get wonderful polenta ....mixed with Bulgar (Gran Saraceno). It's delicious....mix in lots of cheese...robiola, fontina.....it's called "polenta concia" (not sure how that's spelled) in Piemonte and Val d'Aosta...we had a variation at the Colico GTG, remember? Buon Appetito my dear!

At 8:21 AM, Blogger L said...


I usually have mushroom ragu over my polenta but next time I'll try the meat. THat looks delicious.


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