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I had the opportunity to cook a dish to represent Italy for a friendly International Food Festival – a spin on a dish you might find around Trieste, in northern Italy.  It went down a treat.  All gone!

Polenta Squares with Tuna Ragu

Recipe by Steven Kesler
Serves 20 happy International Food Festival attendees (bite sized portions) OR 4-6 as a main

Tuna Ragu
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Anchovy fillets, crushed to a paste
2 Shallots, finely diced
1/4 Teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
3 X 400g tins of whole or crushed Italian Tomatoes, passed through a sieve to remove skin and seeds.  Alternatively, you can use 1 Litre of tomato passato OR if fresh tomatoes at the height of the season are available, by all means, use them! (slice fresh tomatoes in half through their meridian, scoop out the seeds, and grate with a coarse grater into a bowl).
500 mL homemade fish stock, no salt.  OR water.
250 mL dry white wine (optional)
60g capers preserved in salt (rinsed and soaked to remove excess salt), if available.  Can use capers in vinegar, rinsed.
1 X 425g tin Tuna in oil, placed in bowl and lightly broken up with fork
Salt & Pepper, to taste
1 litre home made vegetable stock, no salt (or water)
500 g Course grained polenta (may not use all of it)
25 g Butter
Salt, to taste
Olive oil
Tuna Ragu
1.  Heat a medium saucepan over medium low heat and add olive oil, anchovies, crushed red pepper (if using).  Cook until the shallots are soft, but not browned, about 10 minutes.  If the onions start to colour, reduce heat.
2.  Add sieved tomatoes and fish stock, and white wine and bring to the boil, then reduce heat to medium low and simmer until sauce thickens, about 1 hour.
3.  Taste sauce and adjust Salt & Pepper, to taste.
4.  Add tuna and capers, stir gently into sauce so as not to break up the larger pieces of fish too much.  Continue to cook over a medium low heat for an additional 5 minutes to let everything get happy.
5.  Serve over polenta squares.
Polenta Squares
1.  Heat the vegetable stock (or water) in a medium saucepan over medium high heat until boiling.
2.  Slowly add polenta in a slow drizzle, whilst whisking.  Turn heat down to low and continue to slowly add polenta, until the mixture is thickened.  Trade a wooden spoon for the whisk, add butter and salt, to taste, and continue to stir polenta over low heat for about 20 minutes, until polenta removes from the sides of the pan (ideally).
3.  Coat a baking pan with a light coating of olive oil, then pour polenta into baking pan and spread evenly.  Allow to cool.
4.  Heat grill (oven broiler)
5.  Lightly brush the top of the polenta with olive oil and heat under grill until lightly browned.  Remove.
6.  Cut polenta into squares and serve tuna ragu over polenta squares.