Polenta lasagne

4 Apr
Polenta? Check.
Meat sauce? Got it.
Oven pan? Right over here.
Talk about your no-brainers.
Make some of this, would you. Thank me later.
It all starts with a good-quality base. I know some people swear by the instant stuff, but I always go with the real deal, a good Italian polenta that takes time (half an hour at least) and patience (constant and uninterrupted stirring) to cook properly. Here you have two cups of the stuff, which is mixed with eight cups of well-salted boiling water.
My ancestors are no doubt rolling over this, and I myself may go to Hell because of it, but I use a whisk for stirring polenta, not the sacred wooden spoon that generations of polenta makers have relied upon. The whisk just works better, okay. Somebody had to say it.
When the polenta is done, pour it onto a flat surface. I used a cutting board, which first got a light coat of olive oil to prevent sticking.
While it’s still hot, spread the polenta so that it’s evenly dispersed, then allow it to cool.
Everybody has their own idea about what makes a good meat sauce. I have several ideas. This one’s got ground beef, shredded pork, pancetta and a little sausage meat. Oh, and tomatoes, garlic and some onion. But you knew that.
All that’s left to do now is start layering, just as you would with any lasagne. Layer of sauce on the bottom, slab of polenta, like that.
In the middle and on top I run a cheese grater (with Romano here) over the meat sauce. (There’s no ricotta or mozzarella in this version, but I would not stop you from adding it to your own.)
After about an hour or so in the oven (at 350 F), the first forty minutes covered in aluminum foil, you have got yourself one extraordinarily satisfying “lasagne.” Even if it’s really polenta.
And don’t forget to wait awhile before cutting into the thing. It doesn’t need to rest as long as a real lasagne, but fifteen or twenty minutes wouldn’t hurt.
What, you’re in a hurry?

17 Responses to “Polenta lasagne”

  1. Ciao Chow Linda April 4, 2011 at 10:11 pm #

    polenta pasticciata – one of my favorite comfort foods. This version looks delicious.

  2. Scott Tyree April 4, 2011 at 10:30 pm #

    So, you spread the polenta out into a big rectangle and then cut it into pieces in order to layer with the sauce, right? Look. So. Delicious.

  3. Mister Meatball April 4, 2011 at 10:40 pm #

    Scott: Yep, that's how it works. I could have just cut 2 big slices, the size of the pan, but did it this way to better illustrate the point.

  4. Ishkabibble April 4, 2011 at 10:45 pm #

    adding to my list of must-try mister meatball recipes….

  5. Proud Italian Cook April 5, 2011 at 1:40 am #

    I use a whisk, but I don't have the patience for the real stuff, but slathered with your scrumptious sauce, who cares!

  6. Thomas Henry Strenk April 5, 2011 at 4:18 pm #

    I make my polenta from scratch, and I do use a whisk, but I find it doesn't need much stirring until the last 5-10 minutes or so.

  7. Mister Meatball April 5, 2011 at 4:37 pm #

    On the question of constant stirring, all I can say is this: If I didn't do it my head would become filled with the (loud) voices of earnest old ladies commanding me to do so BECAUSE THAT IS THE WAY IT MUST BE DONE!It's easier to just wear out my arm.

  8. Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti April 5, 2011 at 6:18 pm #

    Polenta is always so delicious, especially served with a good sauce and lots of cheese. When my husband was a child he always begged his mother to let him lick the polenta cooking spoon and scrape out the pot as he felt he got an extra serving that way! 🙂

  9. hooke23 April 6, 2011 at 1:00 pm #

    I can (and do) testify to the scrumptiousness of said dish -it pays to live across the river from the Meatball….

  10. Mister Meatball April 6, 2011 at 3:58 pm #

    Even a shyster deserves a good meal now and then.

  11. hooke23 April 6, 2011 at 10:32 pm #

    You calling me a cow?

  12. Velva April 7, 2011 at 1:41 am #

    This looks so good. What a creative way to use polenta. I need to get with program. There are so many ways to use polenta-yours was perfect.VelvaP.S. Your post made me smile.

  13. Mister Meatball April 7, 2011 at 9:49 am #

    V: Thanks. We do like the smiling readers!

  14. Anonymous August 26, 2011 at 12:12 pm #

    Oh Mr. Meatball, just like Nonna used to make. She used to put a little bit of potato in the water…boil it…then mash it in the water (she loved potatoes) and then add the cornmeal. And she'd always use a wooden spoon! She'd layer it just like you did! Mom & I use the whisk now too. Well, Ma tries but ends up saying \”Fah, I gotta do it the old way!\” and out comes the wooden spoon. Watch out for bubbles splatting the molten lava on the forearm! LOLOL Keep em comin'! We love your blog!

  15. Mister Meatball August 26, 2011 at 12:18 pm #

    Hm, potato. Have to try that. And thanks for the kind words. Whoever you are.

  16. gregg November 1, 2013 at 7:17 pm #

    hello mister meatball,great blog; some really awesome recipes i look forward to trying soon!i am in the unfortunate position of having to do a lot of gluten free cooking… very rough when doing anything mediterranean. i found your polenta lasagna and chic pea bread, which both have me drooling.do you have any other gluten substitutes, especially a good crusty bread? (i know, probably not gonna happen in this universe).keep up the great work!gregg

  17. Mister Meatball November 1, 2013 at 9:11 pm #

    Thanks Gregg, but you're right, I don't have much going in the gluten-free universe. Good luck!

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