Tidings Cooking Challenge – Pastuccia (Polenta with Salami and Raisins)
Welcome to the Tidings Cooking Challenge! Every month we’ll offer a recipe for you to try. You can follow the recipe exactly or vary it however you would like. Then, post a comment below — a short descriptive paragraph (up to 150 words).
Pastuccia (pronounced: pastoocha) is a polenta dish filled with raisins, pancetta and sopressata, which is a type of salami made from pork shoulder, red wine, garlic and black pepper, and pressed into an oblong shape while it ages and cures. Usually served as a first course, it can make a really nice hot or cold side dish accompanying grilled meats and vegetables. I first tried it at my cousin’s home in Italy. The dish and my cousin are native to Teramo, a city in the region of Abruzzo.
Cooking a batch of polenta requires about 20 minutes of your time and a strong arm for stirring. This version is decidedly easier with no-fail results. I adapted this pastuccia recipe from Salumi by John Piccetti, François Vecchio and Joyce Goldstein (Chronicle Books). Check out the slice I posted on the Forum.
2 Tbsp olive oil
200 g pancetta, diced
2 cups polenta
1 tsp salt
4 to 6 cups boiling water, more or less as needed
200 g sopressata, peeled and chopped
1 cup raisins, plumped in hot water and drained
3 egg yolks
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Butter a 9 x 12-inch baking dish.
2. In a large pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add pancetta and sauté until it renders its fat, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat.
3. In a large bowl, combine the polenta and salt. Gradually whisk in enough boiling water to make a medium thick batter. (If the batter is too thick, the pastuccia will turn out dry.) Add the pancetta, sopressata, raisins, egg yolks and black pepper. Stir. Pour polenta mixture into the prepared pan.
4. Bake until the top is golden, about 40 minutes. Let sit for about 10 minutes before serving.