Polenta Cunsa, Polenta Concia, Polenta Grassa


Polenta concia or in dialect cunsa, from the northwest region of Piemonte, is translated as messed up polenta. Once you see the ingredients you can also understand why it is also called polenta grassa (fat). In this recipe, cooked polenta is layered as in lasagne with fontina cheese, heavy cream, nutmeg and topped with sautéed mushrooms. Good honest Northern Italian – stick to the ribs and keep out the chill!


  • 4 T. butter
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 7 C. milk
  • salt
  • 1 2/3 C. coarsely ground cornmeal

Sauté onions until translucent, add milk and scald to boil. Prepare polenta as described previously.

  • 1/2 lb. Fontina Valdostana
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • heavy cream
  • 1 lb. mushrooms – white or cremini button, or a mixture of portobello, shitake and button, quickly rinsed, trimmed and sliced
  • 1 oz. dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1/4 C. OO
  • S & P
  • butter

Soak the porcini mushrooms in warm water to cover for about 20 min. Remove the porcini from the water and dry. Do not drain in a sieve as the water will be sandy. Strain the water and reserve for another use.

Heat the OO in a large sauté pan, add the sliced fresh mushrooms and toss over high heat. Add S & P, cover the pan and cook for about 2 minutes to sweat the mushrooms. Remove the cover, and over high heat, evaporate the abundant water that came out of the mushrooms. This will intensify their flavor.

Layer a buttered baking dish with polenta. Top with S & P, nutmeg, heavy cream, and shredded or thin slices of Fontina. Continue to layer the polenta with S & P, nutmeg, cream and cheese to build about 3 layers. On the top layer spread the mushrooms, knobs of butter, more Fontina, S & P, nutmeg and heavy cream. Bake at 350°F. until bubbling. Serve hot.