Food & Drink

Fresh from Geneva, via Santa Monica: porcini polenta

Keep up the good work - we've received another recipe contribution, making this column a true "readers exchange," a goal we established seven years ago!

John Musante of Santa Monica read our article about the Santa Rosa Chapel polenta dinner in The Sun Bulletin and was moved to send a donation for the new roof.

To my delight, he also sent directions for his favorite polenta variation, using a "surfritto" of wild porcini mushrooms in a "normal" pasta sauce, which we are happy to share here:

Polenta - Geneva Style

1 clove garlic, chopped1 onion, chopped1/2 cup parsley, chopped1 tblsp. butter1 tblsp. olive oilBay leafOregano and basil to taste1 can tomato paste, or fresh tomatoes2 cups beef broth1 pkg. porcini mushrooms, sliced1 lb. beef chuck roast, wholeSalt and pepper to tastePrepared polentaFresh Parmesan Cheese

Sauté garlic, onion and parsley in butter and oil; add herbs and simmer about five minutes in a large saucepan. Stir in tomato paste or fresh tomatoes, broth and chuck roast; simmer covered for a half -hour and add the sliced mushrooms. Cook another hour, adding more broth as necessary and tasting and seasoning as you go along.

Remove the meat and save for beef sandwiches another day. Cook polenta according to package directions, until it pulls away from the sides of its pan. Take a large casserole and spoon some sauce on the bottom. Scoop on some of the soft polenta, then sauce, layer after layer. On the top-most layer of sauce, sprinkle with abundant freshly grated Parmesan - "lots of cheese." Place in a 400-degree oven uncovered until the cheese melts.

John adds, "If you can promise me a bocce event there, I will move to your area. (Signed) Your polenta cousin." Well, John, we have a terrific lawn bowls green in Cambria, and some real maestros who will be glad to enlist you!

Thanks to the Portuguese Genealogical Society in Honolulu, we can serve a traditional salad alongside John¹s main dish. It's a simple combination of tender early garden lettuce, onion and perhaps watercress and cilantro, drizzled with olive oil and vinegar to taste. Portuguese families adopted the American custom of adding tomatoes, cucumbers, and sweet red peppers, finished by arranging sliced black olives on top with a garnish of finely chopped parsley. Please send your favorite recipes to Consuelo, at The Cambrian, 2442 Main St., Cambria CA 93428; or email to cambrian@thetribunenews .com. Find us online at; search for Culinary Corner.

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