Here is the recipe I use to make polenta di castagne. This recipe borrows ideas from several websites, most of them in Italian, which I don’t read very well, but I like how the polenta turned out anyway.
Like cornmeal polenta, chestnut polenta is served under a wide variety of toppings. Like many families, my family has various ideas about what a person should eat. Some of us love sausage. Some of us prefer chicken. Some of us are vegetarians. That’s what’s great about this meal. You can make a lot of different toppings so that everyone is satisfied and the omnivores are delighted.
Chestnut polenta cooks a lot faster than does its cornmeal cousin. For that reason, it is best to make the toppings first. Keep them covered, and they’ll still be hot when the polenta is done.
While polenta di castagne is a little bit sweet, the toppings listed here tend to be savory. Polenta di castagne makes a good primi piatti, or, with a side of seasonal vegetables it becomes a complete meal. I’d serve it with a petite syrah, maybe, or a pinot noir. A nice bottle of Amarone wouldn’t be bad either. Last week we tested the recipes recorded here with our friends, Jackie Vazquez and Tone the Bone. They brought a bottle of chianti from the latter years of the first Clinton administration. It was exceptional with the sausage toping.
The polenta (four servings)
1 ½ cups chestnut flour (you may have to buy this online)
4 cups lightly salted water
Boil the water, add the chestnut flour, stir obsessively until the polenta starts to pull away from the side of the pot.
The toppings (roughly four servings each)
Sausage and Onions
4 Italian sausages
Cheap white wine
Slice the onion into thin rings and sauté in olive oil. Remove the sausage meat from the casings, and add to the onions. Keep cooking till its safe to eat, adding cheap white wine if the mixture gets dry. Then serve it with all of the drippings over the polenta.
2 chicken breasts, skinned and boned
1 clove of garlic
½ cup cheap white wine
½ cup white basalmic vinegar
1 teaspoon dried sage leaves
½ teaspoon anise
salt and pepper to taste
Tenderize the chicken and cut it into small chunks. Let it sit several hours or overnight in the marinade made of the cheap white wine, white basalmic vinegar, herbs and spices. Slice the shallots thinly, sauté in olive oil, adding the garlic after a minute or so. Add chicken and marinade and keep cooking till it’s safe to eat, then serve it, with all the wet stuff, on the polenta.
Portobello mushrooms can be substituted for the chicken, above, except that mushrooms don’t need to be tenderized. But you know that.
Another good vegetarain option is ricotta chese, straight from the carton.
Enjoy, and if you make yourself a batch, let me know how it turns out.