Monday, February 2, 2009

Polenta Grigliata con Sugo di Melanzane

Grilled Polenta with Eggplant

This dish is a bit more time consuming than the others I have posted, it is a two step process since we are working with Polenta and a sauce. The sauce would actually be great in a slow cooker, but if you are cooking it like I present it here, give yourself at least 2 hours of simmering, plus 40 minutes to cook the polenta. The polenta should be made before the sauce, because it needs time to cool and stiffen in order to be used on the grill. Please DO NOT use quick polenta. It tastes terrible. I made the polenta in the morning and started the eggplant in the late afternoon for dinner.


1 cup dry polenta

8 cups of water

1 large eggplant, diced, which should give you 4 cups

1 can of diced tomatoes

2 tbsp of dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in one cup if water

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

2 Calabrian dried red peppers

1/4 cup olive oil

splash of wine

salt to taste for the polenta. I used about 1 tbsp


For the Polenta

Bring for cups of water to a boil in a pot or deep pan. I used my deep pan because it is non stick, which is useful with sticky polenta.

When water comes to a boil, add salt, and slowly stir in polenta, and cook on low heat for about 30-40 minutes, stirring regularly. Add another cup of water halfway through Stir at least every 3 minutes.

When polenta is complete, pour into a medium baking pan, and leave to cool to room temperature. When it cools, you can refrigerate it for a few hours before grilling

For the Eggplant, you will need to prepare 1 tbsp of thoroughly rinsed dry porcini mushroom in one cup of water. Let the porcini soak for no less than 30 minutes

In a deep pan, put olive oil, splash of wine, garlic and peppers and simmer for a good five minutes on medium heat.

Add can of diced tomatoes, and 2 cups of water. Simmer on medium heat for 3 minutes. The you will strain the porcini mushrooms and pour the water they were soaking in into the tomato sauce. The mushrooms will give the sauce a meatier taste, and make it much easier to pair with a bold red wine. Save the porcini in the fridge for other uses. I used mine in a Minestrone I am going to blog about next.

Add the diced eggplant to the mixture and two cups of water. Add salt to taste, simmer on high heat for about 5 minutes, then on low heat for at least 2 hours. If not, your eggplant will taste watery. I know we are ADDING water, but that is to encourage mixing of the tomatoes, porcini water, and eggplant. If you are slow cooking, add all of the ingredients together and leave it for about 8 hours.

Too prepare meal:

When eggplant sauce is ready, you can bring your polenta out and get it read for grilling.

Grill two pieces of polenta at a time, until brown lines appear on either side. Notice the texture of the Polenta is not like a porridge, but it seems almost like Jell-o. There is no gelatin in Polenta, however.

This recipe is for 4. It pairs well with a St. Magdalener from Alto Adige, a Aglianico del Vulture, or a Montepulciano D'Abruzzo.

Enjoy this delicious winter dish inspired by great food I have had in Trentino Alto-Adige.