Polenta Squares with Sautéed Broccoli Rabe and Pancetta
- ACTIVE: 45 MIN
- TOTAL TIME: 1 HR 30 MIN
- SERVINGS: 6
- 2 cups chicken stock or canned low-sodium broth
- 2 1/4 cups water
- 1 1/3 cups cornmeal (about 7 ounces)
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 6 ounces thickly sliced pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch dice (1 1/4 cups)
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced
- 2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 2 pounds broccoli rabe, coarsely chopped
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese (2 ounces)
- Preheat the oven to 425°. Lightly oil an 8-by-11 1/2-inch or 9-by-13-inch baking dish. In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken stock and 2 cups of water to a boil. Add 1 teaspoon of salt. Gradually whisk in the cornmeal until smooth. Cook over moderate heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until thickened, about 10 minutes. Pour the polenta into the baking dish and smooth the top; brush with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the top and bottom are golden and crusty.
- Meanwhile, in a large, deep skillet, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil until shimmering. Add the pancetta and cook over moderately high heat until golden, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the onion, garlic and crushed red pepper and cook until the onion softens. Add the broccoli rabe and the remaining 1/4 cup of water, season with salt and pepper and toss gently. Cover and cook until softened, 5 minutes. Uncover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the water has evaporated and the broccoli rabe is tender, 2 minutes longer.
- Cut the polenta into 6 pieces and transfer to plates. Stir half of the Pecorino into the broccoli rabe and spoon it over the polenta. Sprinkle with the remaining Pecorino and serve.
A simple red will blend best with the flavors here. Consider a Montepulciano d'Abruzzo.