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Polenta Spianata

Polenta on a wooden board


For the chicken ragù:

  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter

  • 4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 red onion, peeled and finely chopped

  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped

  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme, (4 finely chopped and 4 left whole)

  • 1 ½ lbs. boneless chicken thighs, cut lengthwise into thick strips

  • 2 tbsp tomato paste

  • 1 cup dry, white wine

  • Small pinch of ground chilli peppers

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 2 red bell peppers, peeled, roasted, cut into 1- inch pieces

  • 2 x 28fl.oz whole canned tomatoes with their juices, preferable imported Italian variety, passed through food mill with disk with the smallest wholes

  • ½ to 1 cup chicken broth, preferably homemade, completely defatted

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the mushrooms:

  • 4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

  • 2 x 8oz. pkgs of cremini mushrooms, stems removed, finely sliced

  • 1 garlic clove, minced

  • ½ cup dry white wine

  • 2 tbsp finely chopped Italian parsley

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the polenta:

  • 16 cups of cold water

  • 2 ½ cups coarsely ground corn flour

  • 1 ½ cups finely ground corn flour

  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

  • Salt

For assembly:

  • 2 tbsp cold, unsalted butter

  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

  • ½ cup freshly grated, parmigiano Reggiano cheese


To prepare the ragù sauce:

Heat the butter and oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, and chopped thyme leaves and sauté until soft, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the chicken pieces and sauté until golden brown. Add the tomato paste and white wine. Raise the heat and cook until the wine has evaporated. Add the chilli peppers, bay leaves, roasted peppers and thyme

sprigs and tomato puree. In a large skillet heat the oil on medium heat. Add the mushrooms and garlic, sauté until mushrooms are golden. Raise the heat to high add the wine and cook until well evaporated. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the parsley. Add to tomato sauce and simmer gently for 1 ½ to 2 hours, adding a little broth as required.

To prepare the polenta:

Bring the water to a boil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the salt and oil, reduce heat to medium-low. As soon as water begins to boil, gently pour in corn flour in a very thin stream, all the while stirring well with a whisk ( so lumps don’t form) until blended. When the polenta starts to boil, reduce heat to lowest setting and cook , stirring with a wooden spoon for about 30 minutes. The polenta is ready when it comes away from the pot. Stir in the butter, and oil and pour onto a wooden board, spreading well. Top with the chicken ragù and sprinkle with parmigiano cheese.

Yield: 8 to 10 servings


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