White polenta with black cuttlefish

White polenta with black cuttlefish

Modern Italian Food
Earl Carter

If I were asked what would be one of the last 10 dishes that I would like to eat before departing this world, I would include seppie e polenta, or sepe e poenta, as we would say in the Veneto. In the other nine dishes there would be a fair selection of polenta as well.


Quantity Ingredient
50ml extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, peeled and chopped
1 small carrot, peeled and chopped
1 stick celery, chopped
2 garlic cloves, left whole
4 slices pancetta, chopped
4 medium-sized calamari or cuttlefish, gutted and cut into small pieces
50ml white wine
ink sac of each cuttlefish, (optional)
6 tinned tomatoes, chopped, (reserve the juice)
pinch chilli flakes
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper
flat-leaf parsley, freshly torn
1 litre hot water
1 1/2 cups white polenta


  1. Heat the oil in a large heavy-based pan and sauté the vegetables and garlic cloves until they start to soften. (The garlic can be removed later on, or left in, according to your preference.)
  2. Add the pancetta, calamari and white wine. Cook until the wine evaporates, then add the ink sacs, if using, followed by the tomatoes. Add the chilli, bay leaves, and season with salt and pepper. Simmer gently for 45 minutes, adding a little water from time to time if necessary. Add the parsley.
  3. Put the hot water in a large pot and lightly salt. Gradually add the polenta, stirring all the time on a low heat, until the polenta loses its grainy taste, about 30 minutes. You don’t have to be stirring all the time as with a risotto; an occasional stir should be sufficient.
  4. When ready, serve with the cuttlefish.
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