Crostini di Polenta con Prosciutto e Formaggio

(Polenta Crostini with Prosciutto and Cheese)

The Artisan espouses classical cooking and techniques.  That does not mean that we do not use modern appliances or occasionally cook a dish in a manner unknown to Italian cooks of old. We needed to prepare 20 crostini for a dinner party and were pressed for time.  Consequently, we cooked the polenta  in the microwave rather than in a copper polenta pot.  While these methods are not equivalent, the microwave version worked very well.  In fact, posting this recipe is the result of a number of our guests requesting it. We decided that putting it on The Artisan was a way to share it with everyone.  Of course, the polenta can be made any way you choose!


1 1/2 Cups Polenta - Dry  (polenta is coarse ground corn meal)
2 Tbl. Olive oil - Extra Virgin
3 Cups Water
3 Tbl. Onion - Red: diced
1/4 Lb. Prosciutto - Sliced thin with the excess fat removed
1/8 Lb. Cheese -  Mild Gorgonzola
2/3 Cup Radicchio - chopped into very small pieces
3-5 Tbl. Olive oil - Extra virgin


Oil a 9 x 14 inch shallow cookie pan (the sides should be abut 1/2 inch high) and set it aside while the polenta cooks.

Put the polenta into a two quart glass casserole.    Add the 2 Tbl. of olive oil and mix until all of the corn meal (polenta) is coated with oil.  Microwave on high for 30 seconds.  At the end of this time add, the  three cups of water and  microwave on high for 4 minutes.  Stir to remove any lumps which may have formed -- there should be very few.  Microwave an additional 3 minutes on high.  By now the polenta should be thick   and creamy.  If not, microwave for an additional 2 minutes.  Add the red onion, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well.   Microwave for another 3 minutes on high.  By now the polenta should be a thick porridge.  If not microwave an additional 2-3 minutes, or until the polenta is a thick porridge.

At this point, pour the polenta into the oiled cookie sheet and spread it over the pan in an even layer as possible.  A spatula does a good job of this.  Salt the top lightly, and allow to cool completely before going on to the next step. If not using within 2-3 hours, the polenta can be stored in the refrigerator overnight.


While the polenta is cooling, prepare the topping.  Cut the prosciutto (cured Italian ham) into small pieces. This can be done in a number of ways.  Simply cut each piece of prosciutto lengthways, and then again across.  The resultant pieced should be about 1/4 inch square.  A second way to cut the ham is to lay all of the pieces on top of each other, roll them up and cut them into small jellyrolls.  Then cut each little roll into small pieces. Either way, mix the prosciutto with the chopped onions and as much coarsely ground black pepper as desired.  


Remove the polenta from the pan by turning it onto a cutting board.  Cut it into as many pieces as desired.  the exact size depends upon the appetites of those being served.    A good size is about 2 inches by 4 inches.

Place it on a rack and put it in a broiler.  Cook it on each side for about 3-4 minutes or until it either begins to crust or brown.  Remove the crostini from the oven and drizzle a bit of olive oil on each piece.  Place a couple of heaping tablespoons of the prosciutto mixture on each crostini.  Return to the broiler for another minute.  Remove and place a piece of  Gorgonzola cheese on each one.  Return to the broiler for another 30-45 seconds, or until the cheese begins to melt.  Remove from the broiler,  and sprinkle each one with a bit of olive oil.    Garnish each crostini with a sprinkling of the chopped radicchio.  Serve warm.

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Last updated on:02/21/00 04:37:36 PM