Makes 6 appetizer servings, 4 as a main course
1 cup polenta
4 cups water
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 pound pancetta, cut in 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup diced onion
1/4 cup diced carrot
2 tablespoons diced celery
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups chopped tomatoes,
with their juice
Salt and freshly ground
1 ounce grated Parmigiano-
1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Put the polenta in a 2-quart gratin dish and stir in the water and 1 teaspoon salt. Bake for 45 minutes. Stir in 2 tablespoons butter and return the polenta to the oven for 15 more minutes. Taste and add more salt if necessary.
2. While the polenta is baking, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the diced pancetta and cook until it is browned, about 10 minutes.
3. Pour off all but about 1 tablespoon of the fat and add the onion, carrot, and celery, and cook until the vegetables have softened, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes, season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and freshly ground black pepper, and cook until the liquid has all but evaporated and the tomatoes have thickened into a sauce, about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and remove from the heat.
4. When the polenta is fully cooked, spoon the pancetta and tomato sauce over the top. Scatter the Parmigiano-Reggiano over the top and return to the oven to bake until the cheese is melted, about 10 minutes.
Polenta technique comes from Golden Pheasant polenta