Polenta con Puccu

Serves 6


For Polenta

  • 6 cups cold water
  • 2 cups cornmeal, medium ground

For Puccu

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 small onions, finely chopped
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 12 pieces of chicken, legs & thighs
  • 1 cup red wine (divided as ¼ & ¾ cup)
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 6 whole cloves
  • ¼ cup dried porcini mushrooms

Special Equipment

  • large rondeau (straight-sided sauté pan) with cover
  • medium heavy-bottomed sauce pot
  • wooden spoon
  • whisk
  • wooden cutting board
  • kitchen twine


Cook Polenta - For best results, get the polenta going, then start the chicken so they'll both be done around the same time

  1. Put 6 cups of cold water in a large pot and add 2 cups of cornmeal
  2. Whisk thoroughly to remove any lumps. Turn the heat to high and stir with a wooden spoon for 3 minutes
  3. As the cornmeal absorbs the water, continue to stir every 5 minutes
  4. Once the cornmeal begins to resemble polenta, turn the heat down to medium and let it cook undisturbed for 10 minutes. The polenta will release steam and sputter a little
  5. Once it has begun to sputter, deeply stir (going to bottom of pan) every 10 minutes.  Polenta should be fully cooked within ½ hour

Make Puccu

  1. Heat oil in a frying pan over high heat
  2. Add onions and a pinch of salt. Turn down heat so you don't burn the onions. Cook onions until they are translucent (about 4 minutes)
  3. Add chicken to the pan, trying to push the chicken down under the onions. Increase heat to medium-high and cook chicken about 5 minutes per side
  4. Increase heat to high and deglaze the pan with ¾ cup red wine
  5. Mix tomato paste with ¼ cup of wine, add in and stir well
  6. Add cloves and porcini mushrooms
  7. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 30-35 minutes, or until chicken falls off of the bone

Plate & Serve

  1. Flip pot with polenta over on a wooden cutting board and bang the bottom to release. Cut polenta into pieces using a string (for clean slices) or a knife and place on a plate with a large spoonful of puccu in the middle
  2. Save the crunchy polenta that forms along the inside of the pot and dip in the extra sauce. It's delicious!!

This is Eric's grandmother's recipe on his mother side. She's from a small village in Northern Italy called Pinzolo. The copper pot he uses in the video is his grandmother's and it's from 1919. The polenta spoon he uses in the video was hand carved by his grandfather and given to his mother as a wedding present. The spoon is specifically designed for polenta - it enables you to scoop the polenta from the bottom of the pan to the top so it cooks properly. For those not fortunate enough to have a polenta spoon, a wooden spoon is just fine.