“P” is for Polenta: Polenta e Salsiccia Italiana

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Throughout Italy, polenta is the basis for many fine dishes. It can be cooked in soft form, as in this recipe, or it can be cooled and hardened, then sliced and fried or baked. It’s one of the most versatile foods in the Italian food repertoire. It takes the place of pasta or rice, and is extremely popular in the north of Italy, where it is actually a food staple. Polenta also enjoys much popularity in America, as it was made popular by many of the country’s top restaurants and television network chefs. Polenta is, of course, a close cousin of our southern favorite, grits. Only polenta is a much finer grind of cornmeal and yellow cornmeal is the favored polenta. In working with polenta, a cook is limited only by his or her imagination in the preparation of this remarkable food. For openers, try our recipe. Ciao. Buon appetitto!

Polenta e Salsiccia Italiana
(Polenta and Italian Sausage)
6 cups water
2 1/2 cups polenta (fine cornmeal)
1 1/2 pounds Italian sausage
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup grated Romano or
Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup dry white wine

Bring water to a boil in a large saucepan and add a generous pinch of salt. Add cornmeal while stirring generously. Continue stirring and cooking on low heat for about 35 minutes. Meanwhile, add butter to fry pan. Prick sausages with a fork and place in pan, frying slowly for about 12–15 minutes, turning from time to time until nicely browned. Add wine and cook another five minutes, then drizzle vinegar over sausages and let it evaporate. Remove polenta from heat and add cheese, stirring well. Spoon polenta into serving dish and top with sausage, drizzling pan juices over them. For a “mama mia” meal, serve with a Caprese salad, a Lambrusco wine, and a crusty Italian bread.



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