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Polenta gratin with pancetta and tomato sauce

Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Yields Serves 6 as an appetizer, 4 as a main course
Polenta gratin with pancetta and tomato sauce
1

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Put the polenta in a 2-quart gratin dish and stir in the water and 1 teaspoon salt. Bake for 45 minutes. Stir in 2 tablespoons butter and return the polenta to the oven for 15 more minutes. Taste and add more salt if necessary.

2

While the polenta is baking, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the diced pancetta and cook until it is browned, about 10 minutes.

3

Pour off all but about 1 tablespoon of the fat and add the onion, carrot and celery, and cook until the vegetables have softened, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes, season with one-half teaspoon salt and freshly ground black pepper, and cook until the liquid has all but evaporated and the tomatoes have thickened into a sauce, about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and remove from the heat.

4

When the polenta is fully cooked, spoon the pancetta and tomato sauce over the top. Scatter the Parmigiano-Reggiano over the top and return to the oven to bake until the cheese is melted, about 10 minutes.

The polenta technique comes from Golden Pheasant polenta.

Russ Parsons is a former food writer and columnist at the Los Angeles Times.
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