Polenta di Patate

Potato Polenta

This is an unusual recipe because the polenta is not cooked, simply combined with cooked, mashed potato. In a peasant community 3 kg (7 lb) of potatoes would probably be needed to serve eight and the sauce would be less generous!

Ingredients

  • 1.5 kg ( lb) white floury potatoes
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 tablespoonpolenta (yellow cornmeal)
  • large onion, finely sliced
  • 30 g (1 oz) butter
  • cooking oil
  • 300 g (10 oz) thick cut streaky bacon, cut into cubes
  • about 300 g (10 oz) mozzarella, emmenthal or stracchino cheese cut into cubes

Method

Cook the potatoes in salted boiling water until soft. Mash them with a solid potato masher, preferably in a copper bowl, certainly in a metal one (the perfect tool for this job is an Irish masher – rather like a culinary shelalagh!).

When they are smooth, add the polenta flour a little at a time, and keep mashing until the potato comes away from the sides with no difficulty. This procedure should take about 30 minutes. To keep the potato polenta hot, either hold the metal bowl over a very low heat or mash off the heat and keep returning to the heat every few minutes to re-heat. The first option is better if you can manage it.

In a separate pan, fry the onions with the butter and oil until golden, then add the bacon and fry until crisp. When the polenta is smooth and very hot, tip the cheese cubes and the fried ingredients into the metal bowl and mix thoroughly. Tip the whole thing out on to a big wooden board and smooth over.

To serve, using a long piece of thick, clean white thread cut through the polenta cake’ like cutting through cheese with a wire. Cut into big chunks, put a chunk on each plate and serve with a bowl of pickles and cooked beans tossed in a sharp oil and vinegar dressing.

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