Family-Style Polenta with Bolognese
(Serves 4 to 6)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small white onion, finely chopped
- 1 small carrot, finely chopped
- 1 celery rib, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 bay leaves
- 6 ounces ground veal
- 6 ounces lean ground pork
- ½ cup full-bodied red wine
- 1 (28-ounce) can diced plum tomatoes, preferably Italian, with their juice
- ½ cup heavy cream
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 4 large basil leaves, cut into chiffonade (strands)
- 4 ½ cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 ½ cups milk
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 (13-ounce) package instant polenta
- 6 ounces kasseri or soft pecorino cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Fresh oregano or basil leaves for garnish
- Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat.
- Add the onion, carrot, and celery, and cook about 5 minutes, until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic and bay leaves, and cook for 1 minute more.
vAdd the veal and pork and cook, stirring to break up any chunks, until the meat is no longer pink, about 7 minutes.
- Add the wine, raise the heat to high, and cook until the liquid is reduced slightly, about 5 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes and their juice and the cream and reduce the heat to low. Cook, uncovered, for about 1 hour, stirring every 10 minutes or so.
- Season with ¾ teaspoon salt, plenty of pepper, and the nutmeg. The sauce should be very thick and chunky. If it isn’t, increase the heat and cook for 10 minutes more.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the Parmigiano and the basil and remove the bay leaves.
- Combine the chicken broth, milk, and salt in a large, heavy saucepan and place over medium-high heat.
- Bring the liquid to a simmer, then gradually sprinkle the polenta over it in a very slow, thin stream, whisking constantly in the same direction until all the grains are incorporated and no lumps remain.
- Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the polenta is so thick that the spoon stands on its own, 5 to 6 minutes.
- To serve, scoop the warm polenta onto a large wooden parchment paper-lined serving tray or cutting board and smooth into a thick oval.
- Arrange the kasseri cheese on one end of the oval and warm Bolognese sauce on the other.
- Grind pepper over all, garnish with oregano or basil, and serve immediately, with a large serving spoon.