Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Pole Position

The Daytona 500 is this Sunday. Hubs is a longtime NASCAR fan, and if he were going to be home, the vroom, vroom of race cars would be filling our living room. However, he is out of town. This frees me to think about another kind of pole position. My pole-enta position. (sorry. bad pun)

I have mentioned before that I am pretty smitten with polenta. The creamy, rich goodness appeals to every happy cell of my body. When I saw a simple Sausage and Mushroom Ragu recipe served over polenta, I raced to try it. It was a scrumptious finish.

If your position prefers pasta to polenta, do please still try the sauce. The Italian sausage flavors the tomatoes as they simmer together into an easily gratifying sauce. It feels homemade without a ton of homemade work. That kind of meal always takes the checkered flag for me.

(adapted from Cooking Light)

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
8 ounces Italian sausage (I like the kick of the spicy versions.)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained (I prefer the petite diced version.)
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup uncooked polenta
4 ounces cream cheese
1 tablespoon butter

Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in a skillet over medium heat.
Remove sausage from casings and add to pan; saute until browned, stirring to crumble.
Remove sausage from the pan.
Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan and swirl to coat.
Add onion, sauteing until golden.
Add mushrooms, cooking until softened.
Add garlic, saute briefly, until fragrant.
Return sausage to the pan with tomatoes.
Season with 1/8 teaspoon salt.
Reduce heat and simmer gently for 15 minutes. 
Meanwhile, bring broth and water to a boil in a medium saucepan.
Add polenta slowly, whisking well to avoid lumps.
Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes or until thick, stirring occasionally.
Stir in remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt, cheese, and butter.
Serve with sausage mixture. (4 servings)


  1. I've wondered about polenta, but have never tried it. I imagine it to be rather like a liquid corn bread... is that about right?

    1. Hmmm...liquid cornbread? I don't know. I do often lick the spatula after spreading cornbread batter into the pan, and while polenta obviously has that corn flavor, I don't know if that is exactly how I would describe it. It has the texture of cream of wheat (which I love), the flavor of corn, and can be kicked up with broth, herbs and spices, and cheeses. It is just delicious, in my opinion.


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