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Cucina Povera:
Tuscan Peasant Cooking

by Pamela Sheldon Johns

Polenta di Castagna con Salsicce
This dish was daily fare for mountain people during hard times, served plain, or sometimes with ricotta or onions. On special occasions, it was served with sausages or cheese, a delectable foil for the sweetness of the chestnut flour. A copper pot works very well for cooking this dish, which is made Just like corn polenta.
Serves 4



    • 4 cups water
    • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
    • 1 teaspoon sea salt
    • 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
    • 2½ cups chestnut flour, sifted
    • 1 pound Italian-style pork sausages, butterflied


In a large, heavy pot, bring the water to a boil over high heat, and add the 2 tablespoons olive oil, the salt, and rosemary. Decrease the heat to medium and gradually whisk in the chestnut flour in a fine stream. Continue to cook for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until the polenta pulls away from the side of the pan.

Meanwhile, light a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill. Lightly brush the sausages with oil and grill them until nicely browned, about 5 minutes on each side. Transfer to a plate.

Serve immediately, with the sausages arranged on top.


Turn the polenta into an oiled jelly roll pan and let cool until firm, about 20 minutes. Cut into squares to serve or grill.

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