Monday, 8 December 2014

Baked Polenta with Cheese & Sausage

Mr. Ferdzy is a big lover of cornmeal mush, grits, polenta; whatever you want to call it. (He's all over the tortillas and corn chips too, come to think of it.) I am just not a fan of cornmeal mush at breakfast so I try to serve it to him at other times, in other ways. This is one I could stand to do quite often. Apart from all that scrumptious sausage and cheese, it was ridiculously quick and easy to put together. True; the time in the oven doesn't make it a quick week-night supper, but at this time of year I am very happy to have the oven on for a while. Serve this with a green vegetable or a salad, and you have your complete meal.

I must say, I really like Friulano cheese when I can get my hands on it. It has the lovely melty qualities of Mozzerella, but a much more interesting flavour. Mozzerella would do, though. 

4 to 6 servings
1 hour 30 minutes - 30 minutes prep time

Baked Polenta with Cheese & Sausage

3 or 4 cloves of garlic
1 medium onion
400 grams (1 pound, scant) spicy Italian sausage
200 grams (1/2 pound, scant) Friulano cheese, diced
1 tablespoon mild vegetable oil
1/4 cup chopped dried tomatoes
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon rubbed oregano
1 teaspoon rubbed basil
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1/2 teaspoon* hot paprika
1 cup coarse cornmeal (polenta)
3 1/2 cups water
3 cups tomato sauce

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Peel and mince the garlic. Peel and chop the onion. Cut the sausage into bite-sized pieces. Cut the cheese into dice.

Heat the oil in a large ovenproof skillet. Add the onion, and cook, stirring constantly, until softened and slightly browned in spots. Add the sausage pieces, and mix them in well. Once they begin to brown, add the dried tomatoes and the seasonings. Once those are mixed in, hot on their heels add the cornmeal, followed by the water.

Let the mixture simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until it thickens up and begins to "plop". Sprinkle the cubes of cheese evenly over the boiling polenta, but don't stir - just let them settle in. Transfer the skillet (oven mitts on both hands!) to the oven, where bake it for 30 to 40 minutes, until firm and slightly browned. Remove it from the oven and let it rest for 15 minutes before serving. Use those 15 minutes to heat up the tomato sauce, and pass it to be poured over the top of the polenta.

* Most "spicy" Italian sausage hasn't got that much bite to it, and it needs reinforcing, but every so often someone will surprise you. Make sure your sausage isn't, in fact, genuinely spicy spicy Italian sausage before you bring in the cavalry.


Melynda Brown said...

I can't wait to make this, I also love polenta. thanks.

Ferdzy said...

Hey Melynda, I'd love to hear what you think! Thanks for commenting.