Polenta is an Italian term for a type of corn meal used in northern Italy, and pizza base was originally made with iit. The maize / corn flour was cooked into a thick porridge and then poured onto a wooden slab and topped with tomato sauce to become a bulwark for hungry peasants. Varieties of polenta pie are found in several countries. It is a good way to use up cooked meat, but you can also make it with cooked red lentils. Serves 4.
- 1 cup / 150 g cornmeal / polenta
- 1½ cups / 350 ml stock
- 2 tablespoons / 50 g margarine
- 1 small onion, sliced
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- ½ pound / 225 g cooked chicken, cut in small pieces, ground / minced beef or cooked lentils, or a mixture of meat and vegetables
- 1 tablespoon flour
- handful fresh cilantro / coriander leaves, chopped
- ½ teaspoon basil
- ½ - 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- Heat oven to 400 °F / 200 °C / Gas 6.
- Bring 1 cup / 240 ml of the stock to the boil in a heavy pan. Mix a little of the remainder (keeping some to make a gravy below) in a bowl with the cornmeal / polenta.
- When the stock has boiled, pour it slowly into the polenta, stirring all the time to prevent lumps.
- Return the mixture to the pan and cook it slowly, stirring constantly until it becomes smooth and thick like a porridge.
- Add half the margarine and stir it in.
- In another pan, heat up the remaining margarine and cook the onion and garlic until they soften. Put in the cooked filling, sprinkle on the flour and cook for 1 minute. Then add enough stock to make a little gravy.
- Now take two-thirds of the polenta mixture and spoon it into a greased 7 inch / 17.5 cm pie dish, pressing it into place with the back of a metal spoon. Bake this case for 10 minutes. Then remove from the oven and reduce the heat to 350 °F / 180 °C / Gas 4.
- Put the cooked meat or lentil mixture into the pie dish and spread the rest of the dough over the top, distributing it with a spoon and smoothing with a fork.
- Put the pie in the oven and cook for 20 – 30 minutes.