Recipes and Ramblings in Italy

Food Blog

Recipe of the Week (6/17/2012)

Posted by Bill Abruzzo on June 19, 2012 at 10:50 PM

Pasticciata di Polenta con Mele (Polenta Casserole with Sauteed Apples, Speck, Fontina Cheese and Crispy Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese Topping)

     This recipe takes us to the region of Trentino Alto Adige where apples and fine cured hams make their way into simple rustic dishes. Here is a polenta casserole that goes well alongside roasted or grilled pork, chicken and sausage. Be sure to make it with crisp fresh apples. The sweetness of the apple pairs nicely with the creamy Fontina cheese and smoked ham. It is something you might find at a trendy osteria in the chic ski resort of Cortina D’Ampezzo or an upscale Italian restaurant in Manhattan. Serve it as an appetizer with a glass of red Barbaresco wine from Piemonte or a red Merlot from Veneto.



Instant Polenta (1 batch) 

Asiago or Fontina Cheese (¾ lb)

Speck (¼ lb slab)

Grated Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese (about ½ cup)

Butter (8 tbs)

Apples (4)

Walnuts (2/3 cup)

Spanish Onion (½ large)

Garlic (3 cloves)

Sage (½ tbs -chopped, packed firm)

Cinnamon (½ tsp)

Black pepper (to taste)

Salt (to taste)


     Prepare a firm polenta following the instructions on the package.  Then, transfer it to a baking tray, smooth it to ½ inch thickness, and slice it into 3 inch squares. Toast the walnuts in a preheated 375 degree oven for 5 minutes or until golden. Dice the onion, garlic and speck and chop the sage. Place the butter in a frying pan, set it on a medium low burner, add the onion and garlic, season with black pepper, and saute until soft. Next, add the speck and sage, and continue sautéing for another 2 minutes. Then peel, core and chop the apples, add them to the frying pan with the walnuts and cinnamon, and continue sautéing until the apples are tender, but still firm. If necessary re-season with salt and black pepper.

     Brush the inside of a 14 by 9 ½ inch baking dish with softened butter. Next, add a layer of polenta, fitting the pieces snugly in the casserole dish. Spoon the apple mixture and all of the sauce from the pan evenly over top. Then, add a layer of asiago cheese and sprinkle with grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Tent the casserole with aluminum foil and bake it for 20 minutes in a preheated 400 degree oven. Then, remove the foil, raise the temperature to 450 degrees and bake for another 7 minutes or until the top is crisp and golden. Serve hot. Serves 6 adults.

Categories: Appetizers, Snacks, Soups, and Salads

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Reply Manzo
11:19 PM on June 22, 2012 
Interesting!!! I like polenta so I'll give it a try.
Reply mariabella
11:41 PM on June 19, 2012 
Hi Bill, this looks so delicious. . . .wish I could have a piece right now!! I have been looking for something different for a side dish and I think I just found it. Will certainly try this one.