Polenta stacks with ham, spinach and cheese

  • 1 recipe quick polenta, firmed up, recipe follows
  • 2 tbspextra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 280g baby spinach
  • Coarse salt
  • 225g pack Forest ham, soprasata, or coppacola
  • 225g Gouda or fontina cheese, cut into thick slices
  • 1 (450g) jar marinara sauce
  • For the quick polenta
  • 500ml chicken stock, low-sodium canned or homemade
  • 500ml whole milk
  • 110g quick-cooking polenta
  • 25-50g freshly grated Parmesan
  • 30g unsalted butter, cut into bits
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
1) Position a rack about 15-cm from the grill and preheat to high. Cut the polenta into 8 squares and transfer to a baking sheet. Pat dry with a paper towel and lightly brush with olive oil. Grill until tops are browned, about 8 minutes. Remove pan from oven.

2) Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the garlic and pepper flakes, stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Put the spinach in the pan and season with salt, cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted, about 3 minutes. Reserve pan.

3) Divide the wilted spinach among each polenta square. Divide slices of the meat on top of the spinach and top each square with the cheese. Place under the grill until cheese melts and just begins to brown, another 4 minutes.

4) Heat the sauce in the skillet used for the spinach. Ladle some sauce onto each of 4 plates. Place 2 polenta cakes in the middle of each plate and serve.

For the quick polenta:

1) Put the broth and milk in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.

2) Slowly whisk in the polenta, reduce the heat to low, and cook, whisking occasionally, until the polenta is thick and creamy, about 15 minutes.

3) Pull the saucepan from the heat and whisk in the cheese, butter, salt, and pepper. Pour into a baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set, about 2 hours.

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