Oh dear Salmon, are you thinking about Halloween already…?
Polenta for bruschetta, crostoni and crostini / Crostini di polenta
Well, not quite. But having heard Trota mention deploying her special pot to make polenta this week, Salmon’s imagination is clearly running wild… Readers may know that polenta was originally made over a log fire in a copper cauldron, stirred with a wooden spoon – and always in the same direction, clockwise or anticlockwise, never both. But that was long ago and far away and surely no one will hold it against you if you use a modern pan – no fancy headgear needed either, by the way…
In the cartoon kitchen we recognise that polenta may be an acquired taste: to the initiated it is delicious served immediately with just butter or cheese, but in this recipe we are ‘twice-cooking’ the polenta in the form of grilled crostini, following the specialist guidance in Ann and Franco Taruschio’s book Bruschetta, Crostoni and Crostini (p.22).
The basic ingredients are: 150g polenta, 600ml water and a pinch of salt. Start by bringing the water to the boil, add the salt and then the polenta by letting it fall like grains of sand through your fingers, then stir continuously with a wooden spoon until cooked. This can take 20 to 30 minutes, so refer to the polenta packaging for more precise instructions. It is ready when it has turned into a thick paste but can still be poured out of the pan!
Using a Swiss roll tin, or simply a large baking tin lined with parchment, pour the polenta and spread it about 1cm thick. Leave to cool. You can even do this the day before. Once well set, cut the polenta in rectangles about 5x8cm, or use pastry cutters to make other shapes if you prefer. Lightly brush each piece with olive oil and heat on a griddle until it turns slightly crusty with the distinctive charred marks. To avoid overcrowding the griddle you may need to do this in batches (meanwhile keeping the finished pieces warm in the oven).
Now for the topping. It’s your choice really: wild boar stew (if you happen to have this to hand) is a classic, but you can also use cheese, ham, boiled eggs… on this occasion we used mushrooms and sausage meat. Simply slice and fry 10 medium-sized mushrooms in a little olive oil with a sliced clove of garlic. Separately, fry the meat from a couple of large sausages (removing the skin first) in a little olive oil until lightly caramelised. Build your crostini and tuck in!
Now that the nights are drawing in, this a real winter warmer.
Oh yes… and hold on to your hat Trota: it might come in handy next week!