CLASSIC pasta polenta with sausages








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This is as tasty a polenta presentation as it looks. Herewith a basic polenta and sausage presentation, as shown above, plus a couple of slight variations.

The basic recipe is adapted from Italy: The Beautiful Cookbook, by Lorenza De Medici, and, of course, is best served with the Medici's famous Chianti Classico, Badia a Coltibuono.

The basic recipe:

  • six cups of water
  • two cups of yellow cornmeal, preferably the imported Italian medium polenta grind
  • one tablespoon salt
  • three tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • one-half cup freshly grated parmesan

In a large, heavy pot, bring the water to a boil. Add the salt. Keep the water at a boil. Pour the cornmeal into the water in a thin, steady stream, either through your fingers or using a spouted measuring cup. All the time you are adding the cornmeal, whisk!

Continue cooking over a medium-low heat, stirring frequently and thoroughly. Adjust the heat so that the polenta just barely bubbles. The key to a successful polenta is smoothness, and no lumps.

As the polenta thickens, be sure to stir with vigor, scraping up the mixture from the bottom and sides.

It is done, when the polenta becomes a mass that pulls away from the sides, and has a glossy look. This can be about 30 - 40 minutes.

To finish the polenta: take off the heat, stir in the butter and the parmesan and stir again.

Basic variation:

Take one pound of Italian sweet sausages. Prick the sausages with a fork. Melt three tablespoons of butter in a skillet. Add the sausages and saute at a medium heat. Turn them regularly. They should be brown overall, and cooked, in about ten minutes. Sprinkle a tablespoon of red wine vinegar over them, and let the vinegar evaporate.

Spoon the polenta onto a serving dish. Top with the sausages and, if you are willing to go all out, spoon the melted fat from the sausages over the top.

With tomato sauce:

Use one pound of sweet Italian sausage, cut into three-inch lengths.

For the sauce:

  • two tablespoons of butter
  • three tablespoons chopped onion
  • three tablespoons chopped carrots
  • three tablespoons chopped celery
  • three tablespoons olive oil
  • one cup canned imported Italian plum tomatoes, roughly cut up, with their juice

Prick the sausage pieces with a fork. In a saute pan, add two tablespoons of butter, and fry the sausages for eight minutes, constantly turning them, until they start to brown. Remove the sausages and set aside. Drain the fat from the saute pan.

In that same pan, add the three tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onion and saute two minutes. Add the carrots and celery, and saute an additional four minutes. Add the sausage pieces, and continue cooking another four minutes.

Add the tomatoes and their juice. Bring to a boil, and then lower to a simmer and cook for about twenty minutes, until the tomatoes break down into a sauce. Set aside.

When the polenta is ready, reheat the sausage and tomato sauce. Spoon the polenta onto serving dishes. With a fork, put the sausage pieces artistically into the center of the polenta. Spoon the tomato sauce over the sausage, dripping, of course, into the polenta. Serve.




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