My neighbor Piero, who is a chef, recommended I go to El Canton Dij Formaggi (www.angolodeiformaggi.it) when I told him I wanted to make concia, a type of polenta served in the region of Piedmont. Piero loaned me a cookbook of recipes from the region of Piedmont that he has catalogued during his career. He lists more than a dozen different types of polenta recipes.
I was inspired to make polenta after enjoying a beautiful Sunday afternoon lunch in Bra at Carmen and her husband’s house. They have such a gorgeous family and are good friends of my American friend Eric, who has since transferred to the States for the winter.
With my neighbor’s recommendation, I went to El Canton Dij Formaggi and asked the owner, Luciano to recommend the cheese I should use to make concia. Traditionally, it can be made with gorgonzola, but I decided upon the following: Fontina Val D’Aosta a semi-soft cow milk cheese from the Valle D’Aosta, Robiola Cocona an extremely soft goat cheese, and Toma di Lanzo di Margaro an aged, medium-hard cow milk cheese.
Polenta can be made using a variety of stocks or with salted-water. Because I would like to make a different dish with the leftovers, I decided to use water. Basically, one uses 2 ½ cups of liquid for each cup of polenta. However, I am using a stone ground polenta, not a par-boiled one that is commonly found in the States. I have the luxury of having La Ossola right down the street from my apartment. La Ossola has been providing flours and grains to the local bakeries in Turin since 1955 (www.ossolafarine.it/).
At the end of cooking process, I mounted the polenta with small-diced pieces of the cheese mentioned above and a bit of butter. I served my polenta with a simple tomato sauce cooked with cipolle rosse di Tropea, or sweet red onions from the southern part of Italy in Campania. A plate of polenta is the perfect comfort food on a cold, rainy day.