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Cuttlefish with guanciale and fennel seed on soft polenta

Seafood and salumi are a great match. If guanciale isn't available, substitute pancetta.

You'll need

1 kg cuttlefish (about 10-12) 80 gm unsalted butter, coarsely chopped 60 ml (¼ cup) extra-virgin olive oil 50 gm guanciale, finely chopped (see note) 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced 2 tsp fennel seeds, coarsely crushed 1 small red chilli, thinly sliced 2 tbsp coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley   Soft polenta 800 ml milk 300 gm yellow polenta 250 ml (1 cup) pouring cream 160 gm (2 cups) finely grated parmesan 60 gm unsalted butter, coarsely chopped


  • 01
  • For soft polenta, bring milk and 800ml water to the boil in a large saucepan, season to taste, add polenta in a thin stream, whisking continuously. Reduce heat to low, stir continuously with a wooden spoon until polenta is smooth (30-40 minutes), then stir in cream, parmesan and butter, keep warm.
  • 02
  • Meanwhile, remove beaks and eyes from cuttlefish with a sharp knife (discard), reserve tentacles. Rinse inside of bodies, cut into 5cm-triangular pieces. Heat butter and oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat, add guanciale, garlic, fennel seed, and chilli, sauté until starting to brown (3-4 minutes). Add cuttlefish, reserved tentacles and parsley and sauté until just cooked (2-4 minutes). Season to taste, serve immediately with polenta.

Note Guanciale is cured pig's jowl or cheek, available at Italian butchers and delicatessens.

At A Glance

  • Serves 4 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 4 people

Drink Suggestion

Fragrant traminer.

Featured in

May 2009

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