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Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Polenta, Stilton and Beans

The Italians love their polenta, but I have always found it to be rather a curious thing. This is an interesting way to prepare it. You could have small portions of it as a starter or make it a bit larger to do as a main as part of a meal. This will do two.

Pour a ladleful of polenta into a pan with some salt. Pour in about half a dozen ladles of cold water. Bring to the boil, constantly stirring it with a whisk or fork to stop it turning lumpy. Then, turn the heat right down and cover slightly and let it bubble away for about 25 – 30 minutes.

Next, take a teaspoon of extra virgin oil and warm it gently before stirring in a pinch of chilli powder. Let it fizz for a second or two, then take it off the heat. Stir a heaped tablespoon of a hard Italian cheese (not Parmesan, its not vegetarian) and some pepper. Alternatively, use strong cheddar, but half the amount.

Stick a pan of water on with some salt and bring it to the boil. Top, tail and halve a couple of good handfuls of green beans and drop them into the water.

Ladle half the cooked polenta into a pasta bowl and put a large thin slice or two of Stilton or other blue cheese on top. Pour over another ladle of polenta and let the cheese melt. Top with the green beans and then pour over the chilli oil.

What you get is the smoothness of the polenta, the strength of the cheese and heat of the chilli oil, all of which is cut through nicely by the beans, which will be slightly undercooked to give them a bit of a crunch.