This is a little tribute to the annual Polenta Festa at Dorothea’s House in Princeton. That takes place later today, but I’m going to miss it (again!). My weekends are just so darned busy that by Sunday evening, I’m down to crunch time to get ready for the upcoming work week. My Italian mother is surely shaking her finger at me, she loved Polenta Festa herself.
The photo here is what I made the last time I attended, in January 2008. I wrote about it for the Packet then, with the recipe below.
So Buon Appetito to Princeton’s Italian community, and, while I’m at it, Buon Natale e Felice Anno Nuovo!
Polenta with Rape (Broccoli Rabe)
Liberally adapted from “Pleasures of the Good Earth,” Edward Giobbi, Knopf, 1991
Note: I also added a few golden raisins to the cooked rape, before combining with the polenta. Also, while Giobbi (and most others) directs cooks to boil the water before adding the cornmeal, I prefer to add my cornmeal very gradually as the water is brought to the boil, stirring constantly. I also sprinkled about 2 tablespoons grated Parmigiano Reggiano on top before serving.
12 cups roughly chopped rape (1 big bunch will be sufficient, trim off largest stems)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Hot pepper flakes to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil plus extra for sprinkling
1 cup fine cornmeal
4 cups water
2 tablespoons kosher salt (or to taste)
Freshly ground black pepper
Cooked the chopped rape in salted, boiling water for about 4 minutes. Drain and mix with the garlic, hot pepper, and the 2 tablespoons olive oil. Sauté over medium heat for 5 minutes and set aside.
Cook the polenta, seasoning with salt to taste; fine cornmeal only takes around 8-10 minutes once it gets bubbling. It should be quite loose, because, as Giobbi tells us, this dish should have a quiche-like texture when finished.
As soon as polenta is cooked, fold in the rape. Pour the mixture into a 10-inch pie plate, sprinkle with olive oil and black pepper, and broil until top is lightly charred.