Spotlight: From Pot To Plank At Amelia’s Trattoria

Individual planks of polenta at Amelia's Trattoria (photo: Sue McCrory)

A communal dish is not what first comes to mind when you think of Italian food. Sure, food can be served family-style from a large platter. But the act of dipping one’s fork into one shared dish for the duration of a course is not the traditional way Italians eat. Not even pizzas are shared. Polenta is different.

You’ve probably tried it, or heard of it. It’s the most basic of fare: cornmeal stirred into boiling water until it thickens and sets, served with sautéed mushrooms, a Bolognese sauce, even fish. In essence, polenta is a culinary blank canvas. You can put just about anything on it, and you’ve got yourself delicious, nutritious comfort food and hearty winter fare.

A native of Boston’s North End, owner/chef Delio Susi of Amelia’s Trattoria grew up with polenta. He’s now serving it at his Kendall Square restaurant as part of a special “Pot to Plank” dinner menu available only through the end of February. The “pot” part is logical enough: you make polenta by bringing a pot of water just to boiling, then slowly pouring in the cornmeal, in stages, whisking it as you pour. (Chef Delio says the trick is not to pour too fast.) The “plank” part comes in when you eat. Polenta is traditionally served on a large wooden plank (maple or cedar) appropriate to the size of the table and number of diners. Everyone feasts from this communal plank.

At Amelia’s, you can order an individual plank of polenta served with your choice of topping, or order a larger plank for the whole table with as many discrete toppings as you like — from osso bucco and crispy sage to gorgonzola with broccoli rabe. Amelia’s Pot to Plank Menu is hearty, savory and communal fare, and it’s here through the end of next week. Thank goodness it’s Leap Year.

One thought on “Spotlight: From Pot To Plank At Amelia’s Trattoria

  1. Pingback: Thursday Tidbits: Sugar Rules | Public Radio Kitchen