Tag Archives: Polenta

Italian Sausages with Bell Peppers and Polenta

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This dish  offers the classic Italian-American combination of sausage and peppers on a bed of polenta enriched with Parmesan cheese. By putting the emphasis on the peppers and onions, it makes an indulgent meal a healthy one, as well, with 34 grams of protein and just 31 grams of fat.

Serves 2

Ingredients:
½ cup polenta
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 mild pork sausages
1 yellow onion, sliced
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
2-3 Italian frying peppers, sliced, seeds discarded
1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
2-3 springs fresh rosemary, chopped
1/2 bunch Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 bunch fresh basil leaves, torn

Directions:
To cook the polenta,  add 4 cups of water to a 2-quart sauce pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Whisk in the polenta and let the water return to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook, stirring frequently, until the polenta thickens and absorbs most of the water, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the parmesan and season with salt and pepper.
While the polenta cooks, prepare the sausage and peppers.

In a 12-inch frying pan over medium-high heat, warm 1 tablespoon oil until hot but not smoking. Add the sausages and cook until well browned, about 5 minutes on each side. Transfer to a plate. Do not wipe out the pan.

In the same pan used to cook the sausage, warm 1 tablespoon oil over medium high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the onions, season with salt, and cook until the onions begin to caramelize, about 15 minutes. Add the peppers, garlic, and rosemary, and continue cooking until the peppers start to soften, about 5 minutes. Add ¼ cup wine, if using and cook until the wine has almost completely evaporated. Stir in the tomato paste and 1½ cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, and cook until the liquid has thickened, about 5 minutes. Slice the sausages and add them to the pan, turning once or twice until heated through, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the parsley and season with salt and pepper.

To serve, transfer the polenta to serving bowls and top with the sausage and peppers. Garnish with torn fresh basil.

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Polenta Pizza

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Gooey cheese melting into baked polenta—crisp on the outside with a creamy interior—is as satisfying as a pizza but it’s gluten-free. Serve with a green salad for a satisfying meatless Monday meal.

 Serves 4

Ingredients:

For the polenta crust:
1 1/3 cups  gluten-free medium-ground cornmeal
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2  tablespoons olive oil, plus more as needed

For the topping:
1/2 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, coarsely grated
1/4 cup thin asparagus spears, sliced into  1 1/2 inch lengths
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2  tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/3 cup  freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano

Directions:
To make the polenta crust, in a microwave-safe bowl, mix 4 cups  water, the cornmeal and 1 3/4 teaspoon salt. Place in the microwave and cook at the high setting for 5 minutes. Stir thoroughly, then return to the microwave and cook at the high setting for 5 more minutes. Stir well. Return to the microwave and cook at the high setting until very thick, about 5 minutes longer. Stir again, and then mix in the 1 1/2  tablespoons olive oil and a generous amount of pepper.

Brush a large pizza pan generously with olive oil. Spread the cornmeal mixture out on the pan in a circle about 1/3 inch thick and about 12 inches  in diameter, building up the edges slightly.

Preheat an oven to 375°F .

Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese over the pizza crust on the pizza pan, leaving a border.

In a small bowl, mix the tomatoes,  asparagus, shallot, 1 1/2  tablespoons olive oil, garlic and the vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon the tomato mixture over the cheese. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese.

Bake the pizza until it is beginning to brown in spots, about 20 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes to set up. Sprinkle with the oregano and serve immediately with forks and knives for eating.

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Sautéed Mushrooms with Polenta

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A savory appetizer or main dish full with of flavorful mushrooms sautéed in herbs and a rich balsamic vinegar sauce, spooned over creamy polenta with melted  smoked gouda cheese.

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:

For the  mushrooms:
4 Tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 pounds Baby Bella  mushrooms, sliced
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
6 garlic cloves, minced
3 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup chicken broth
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
Salt, to taste

For the  polenta  (See Cook’s Notes):
2 1/2 cups milk
2 1/4 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups instant polenta
8 ounces  smoked gouda  cheese, shredded (See Cook’s Notes)
Salt, to taste

Directions:

For  the mushrooms:Warm a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil. When oil begins to shimmer, add mushrooms; and cook stirring occasionally for 7 minutes. Stir in thyme, oregano, pepper and garlic; continue to cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in balsamic vinegar, scraping up any brown bits from bottom of pan, stirring constantly about 30 seconds. Stir in chicken broth, reduce to low. Stir in butter.  Adjust the seasoning with salt to taste. Keep warm.

For polenta: In a saucepan, bring 2 1/2 cups milk and 2 1/4 cups chicken broth to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; gradually stir in polenta; cook, stirring constantly until mixture thickens, about 3 minutes. Add more liquid (broth, milk or water) as needed to achieve desired consistency. Remove from heat. Add shredded cheese; stir to combine until smooth. Salt to taste. Serve polenta warm topped with mushrooms.

*Cook’s Notes:
Other cheeses may be substituted. A few recommendations: Gouda, Gruyère, Havarti, Fontina,  or Cheddar.

For a homemade polenta, follow the link here: Creamy Polenta

 

 

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Creamy Polenta

Polenta, in short, is a cornmeal porridge that is a common dish in Northern Italy. It’s frequently eaten with meats and ragù, cheese like gorgonzola, or condiments like mostarda d’uva, a grape-and-nut jam from Piedmont. It can either be eaten freshly cooked, much like a thick porridge, or it can be cooled and then sliced and fried, grilled, or baked.

Long before corn was brought from the Americas to Europe, polenta was already a staple food—it just wasn’t made from corn, obviously. The name originally comes from the Latin word for pearled grain (like barley), and the dish, a gruel that could be made with all sorts of grains and legumes, dates back to Roman times.

Today, it’s no longer associated with those other grains, just corn (or, in the case of polenta taragna, cornmeal mixed with buckwheat). While there are certain heirloom varieties of corn, like otto file and biancoperla, that some prefer over the more generic stuff, for all practical purposes any medium- or coarsely ground cornmeal will do. Even grits, which often have a coarser grind than polenta and are sometimes made with a different variety of corn , are a perfectly acceptable substitute in just about any situation requiring polenta.

The first thing that’s helpful to know is that polenta doesn’t have to be made with a product that says “polenta” on the package. There’s nothing wrong with using a product designed exclusively for polenta, but you can just as easily use any medium or coarse-ground cornmeal.

There are a lot of old wives tales people say you need to follow to make polenta, like using a wooden spoon, stirring in only one direction, adding the polenta to boiling water, and stirring constantly. Forget those rules, because none of them could be further from the truth. What’s really important is using the right ratio of liquid to cornmeal and cooking the polenta long enough for the cornmeal to properly hydrate and cook. Pre-soaking helps hydrate the cornmeal and cuts down on actual cooking time.This recipe allows you to choose whether to use water, stock, or milk as your liquid (though I’m partial to the light, clean flavor of a water-based polenta), and can either be served right away with braised meats or cheese like gorgonzola dolce, or chilled, cut into pieces, and seared, grilled, or fried.

Adapted From
Daniel Gritzer, Culinary Director
SeriousEats.com
May 2015 

Ingredients:
5 cups water, milk, or chicken or vegetables stock (See Cook’s Notes)
1 cup medium or coarse yellow cornmeal (See Cook’s Notes)
Kosher salt, to taste
2 tablespoons unsalted butter or extra-virgin olive oil

Directions:
Pre-soak the  cornmeal, which requires advance planning but cuts cooking time roughly in half, combine water with cornmeal in a large mixing bowl and let stand, covered, at room temperature overnight. When ready to cook, scrape soaked cornmeal and water into a large saucier or saucepan and set over high heat.

Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Let boil, stirring frequently, until polenta thickens enough that it starts to  sputter or “spit”. Lower heat immediately to prevent spitting and continue to cook, stirring frequently with a spoon or silicone spatula and scraping bottom to prevent scorching, until polenta becomes thick and pulls away from side of saucepan, for  about 30 minutes. Taste and season with salt.

Stir in butter or olive oil using either a spoon, silicon spatula, or whisk. If the polenta forms lumps, beat vigorously with a stiff whisk to remove the lumps. If polenta becomes too firm or begins to set, add a small amount of water, stock, or milk, and beat in with a whisk until fully incorporate and no lumps remain.

Serve right away with accompaniment of your choice, or scrape into a vessel and chill until set, then cut into pieces for grilling, searing, or frying.

Cook’s Notes:
Any medium or coarse cornmeal will work here, whether the package says “polenta” or not; avoid instant polenta, which promises a quick cooking time in exchange for sub-par flavor and texture. For the liquid, milk will produce a rich and creamy polenta that is delicious and indulgent, but also very heavy. Chicken or stock vegetable will infuse the polenta with more flavor, but that flavor can also cover up the taste of the cornmeal. Water produces the lightest polenta with a mild corn flavor that pairs well with everything and won’t leave you feeling weighed down after eating it.

All photographs and content are copyright protected. Please do not use these photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this photograph and all other contents, then we kindly ask that you link back to this site. We are eternally grateful and we appreciate your support of this blog.

Thank you so much!

TODAY.com Parenting Team FC Contributor

TODAY.com Parenting Team FC Contributor

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Sweet Italian Sausages in Fennel and Tomato Sauce

A big pot of slow simmering red sauce  with meat and big pieces of fresh fennel added, gives this dish a nice, soft creaminess with the slightly bouncy  texture of sweet Italian sausages. This simple one pot meal will definitely please a hungry crowd. Enjoy!

Serves 8

Ingredients:

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
12 sweet Italian sausages
3 fennel bulbs—trimmed, each bulb cut into 8 wedges, fronds chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
Kosher salt, to taste
One 28-ounce can San Marzano whole tomatoes, crushed ,juices reserved
1 cup dry white wine
3 pequin chiles or 2 chiles de árbol or crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon sugar (optional)
Creamy polenta, for serving

 

Directions:
In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the olive oil. Add half of the sausages and cook over moderate heat, turning, until browned all over, 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate; repeat with the remaining sausages.

Add the fennel wedges to the casserole and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes. Add the onion, garlic, fennel seeds and 1 teaspoon of salt and cook, stirring, until the fennel is lightly browned, about 3 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and their juices, the wine, chiles and sugar. Tuck the sausages into the sauce. Cover and cook over low heat for 15 minutes.Uncover and simmer until the sausages are cooked through and the sauce is thickened, about 45 minutes longer.

Garnish the stew with fennel fronds and serve over polenta.

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Cook’s Notes:

The stewed sausages can be refrigerated for up to 2 days; rewarm before serving.

Small, spicy dried red Mexican pequin chiles are available at Latin American markets and specialty food stores.

If pequin or arbol chile peppers are not available in y0ur area, crushed red pepper flakes will also do as a substitute for the dried chile peppers

TODAY.com Parenting Team FC Contributor