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Cuttlefish with guanciale and fennel seed on soft polenta

Australian Gourmet Traveller Italian recipe for cuttlefish with guanciale and fennel seed on soft polenta.

By Rodney Dunn
  • 20 mins preparation
  • 50 mins cooking
  • Serves 4
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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.


  • 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


  • 1
    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.
  • 2
    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.
Drink Suggestion: Fragrant traminer. Drink suggestion by Max Allen

  • Author: Rodney Dunn