Family-Style Polenta with Bolognese

Family-Style Polenta with Bolognese


(Serves 4 to 6)

Bolognese Sauce

  • 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.



Donatella Arpaia

Donatella Arpaia is a chef, restaurateur, entrepreneur, and mother. She has built an empire of successful restaurants drawing on the skills, passion, methods, and love for food she learned from her family.