Sunday Pasta™: Polenta e Porri (Leeks)
By Garrubbo Guide on March 28, 2012
In case you were wondering, the creative genius behind the Guida Garrubbo logo is Davide Carbone, who hails from Biella, the Italian textile capital, in Piemonte. Naturally, these days he’s doing cool things in Williamsburg, where he runs his design sites gBlog and gSelect. He is also the editor of the new Galleria section of the Garrubbo Guide, in which we explore the intersection of food and art.
Being from Piedmont, his family likes their polenta, and thus today we feature his grandmother’s recipe. The original name of the recipe in dialect is polenta e pur, the Italian name is polenta e porri. The more common version of the recipe, which is from Lombardia, uses ricotta, but the Carbone version has two different types of cheese, Fontina and Robbiola di Roccaverano.
And a few words of advice, although the Carbone family eats this dish year round, in his mamma’s opinion, the fall is the best season for leeks. Second, stir the polenta with a wooden spoon, because if his “nonna sees you stirring polenta with a metal spoon, she’ll curse you!” And finally, although I loved the dish, leeks, cheese, and anchovies are not for everyone, especially when combined, so add or subtract according to your taste. But don’t be wimp either.
Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
500g (approx one pound) of corn flower
3 lbs leeks
4 oz butter
5 oz anchovies
8 oz Fontina cheese
4 oz Robiola di Roccaverano cheese
In a large pot add 64 oz of water, some salt and bring to a boil. When the water comes to a boil, slowly add the corn flower while stirring with a wooden spoon. Cook over a low heat, stirring constantly, for 30-45 minutes, or until the polenta has thickened and easily falls away from the side of the pot.
With some cold water, wet a clean, flat surface, (kitchen counter, cutting board, or table) and pour the polenta. Then with a wet spatula or a knife, or your damp hand, level it to reach a flat sheet, about ¾ inch thick. Let it cool for about 20 minutes, then cut into strips, about the width of lasagna.
Remove the green outer leaves of the leeks and cut them in round thin slices. Wash them well. (Apparently this washing AFTER cutting is important because it gives the porri that little extra moisture needed, since the dish goes into the oven.) Melt a bit of the butter in a pan and add the leeks, let it cook slowly until they start taking a nice amber color (not too caramelized!!)
At this point (or earlier) wash the anchovies well under cold water to eliminate the salt.
Take the rest of the butter and melt it in a pan.
In a buttered baking dish, start laying the rectangular slices of polenta to cover the bottom, then add a layer of leeks, some anchovies, thin slices of Fontina and small pieces of Robbiola, here and there.
Cover with a layer of polenta and start again with leeks...and so on to create a multi-layer lasagna-type stack. Brush the top layer with melted butter.
Put it in the oven at 350 for 15-20 minutes or until it gets a nice crust.
You may wish to reduce the quantity of anchovies. You can also substitute cheeses, Taleggio instead of Robiola, for example.
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