Polenta e osei

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces pancetta, sliced
  • 8 ounces round of beef fillets
  • 12 leaves fresh sage
  • 1 pound pork loin, cut into fillets
  • 4 ounces veal cutlet
  • 12 skewers
  • 4 links fennel sausage, removed from casing and cut into chunks
  • 4 ounces pancetta, cubed
  • 2 cups coarsely ground cornmeal
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • About 1/2 cup basic meat broth
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste

How to make the Polenta e osei:

place 1 slice of pancetta on each beef fillet. Cover with a piece of sage and roll into a tight cylinder. Do the same for the pork and veal. Thread the rolled meats onto the skewers, alternating with chunks of sausage and cubes of pancetta.

Meanwhile, make the polenta: Bring 8 cups salted water to a rolling boil over medium heat in a heavy-gauge saucepan. Reduce the heat to low, pour in the polenta in a steady stream, and cook, whisking frequently until the polenta comes away from the sides of the pan and the whisk stands up by itself in the center of the polenta.

While the polenta is cooking, heat the butter in a skillet over low to moderate heat and cook the skewers a few minutes per side until golden. Season with salt and pepper and continue to cook for 15 minutes, adding broth as necessary to keep the meats from sticking.

Spoon the cooked polenta onto a serving platter. Stick the skewers into the surface of the polenta so that they are standing up straight, and serve the Polenta coi osei with a platter of sautéed greens.

Serves 4

Regional recipe from Friuli and Lombardy

This is a piatto unico. That is, one plate which includes both first and second courses. Osei means small birds-thrushes, sparrows, finches. Tiny delicacies with a long gastronomic tradition and many passionate aficionados, small birds are generally prepared grilled, stewed (in umido), or skewered and sautéed. But in the last ten years, their numbers have decreased because of overhunting, and most of those that are left are now thankfully protected by strict anti-hunting laws as endangered species. In the recipe, one of the more popular, pork, beef, and veal have been substituted for the birds.