Frequent Dream of Italy contributor Toni Lydecker is out with a new cookbook, Piatto Unico: When One Course Makes a Real Italian Meal. “As you have no doubt heard and observed, a real Italian meal consists of several courses. Except when it doesn’t,” Toni says. Based on this idea, Toni’s cookbook celebrates the one-course Italian meal. She share’s a terrific polenta recipe, perfect for fall, from the cookbook…and tells us about her polenta adventures in Piedmont.
Visiting the Piedmont one fall, we decided to stay overnight in Cuneo and quickly discovered that a festival celebrating the fat chestnuts called marrone was in full swing. Shirtless, sweating men in the center of town were roasting chestnuts, while others stirred polenta taragna in vast cast iron cauldrons–all of this taking place over open fires. I decided to buy a bowlful of polenta–just one, because we had dinner plans–and the three of us stood in the street, dipping our spoons into the steaming, utterly delicious porridge, laced with melting chunks of local toma cheese.
Later that night, following a less than memorable dinner, I regretted that I hadn’t eaten my fill of that remarkable polenta. Making it at home doesn’t quite replicate that experience, but when stone-ground meal is used, it comes close.