Polenta evokes in me the stories of my grandfather his tales of hard times of war and times of hunger. Polenta in their era was a luxury that could be afforded only rarely. A a young boy listening to my grandfather’s stories I remember was like watching a black and white movie through his eyes. I saw ten, fifteen maybe even twenty people all gathered around a long wooden table in a farm house in the country. On the table was a large pot from which flowed steaming hot polenta. The group would enjoy together the only meal of the day. Today polenta recipes are basically very similar. Here is a version you can try, I suggest with seasonal ingredients of “Verza ripassata” cabbage and sausage to evoke those old stories of my Grandfather’s day
- 300/400g polenta
- 1 ltr salted boiling water
- In this variation I suggest combining polenta with other seasonal ingredients.
- To prepare the polenta boil a quart of salt water, just before the boil begin to add 300/400 g polenta flour a little at a time stirring constantly with a whisk. While cooking Polenta should have the consistency of cream, if it is too hard to add a little hot water. Once combined with the water and mixed to a smooth paste, cover and leave on low heat for 15-20 minutes stirring from time to time.
- At this time of year I serve polenta with "Verza ripassata" cabbage and sausage, with a generous sprinkling of Parmesan cheese, but the variations are many and are limited only by your imagination.
cabbage with sausage recipe
- 1kg cabbage
- 200g potatoes
- olive oil
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
- 3 italian sausages, de-skinned
- chilli (optional)
- rosemary sprigs
- thinly sliced fried purple potatoes
- Take a small whole green cabbage and remove the outermost, damaged leaves, then chop roughly and remove the hard central core of the cabbage, what we call "removing the bone". Now rinsed the cabbage thoroughly and boil in lightly salted water with 200 g of peeled potatoes. Meanwhile, in a skillet, fry the whole pealed garlic with two sprigs of rosemary in olive oil, when the garlic is golden brown remove it and crumble in the three sausages and cook them well and mash with a fork. The vegetables are cooked when the potatoes are crushed easily, at this point drain the pan and using a colander transfer the cabbage to a chopping board and chop finely. Add the cabbage to the sausage pan and braise for about thirty minutes, adding some of the cooking water as needed to prevent drying out. To serve add in the mashed potatoes, season with salt ad pepper and serve topped with the fried potatoes and fresh rosemary.
- To add spice to the dish add chilli to taste 10 minutes before the end of the cooking time.
- 1kg good quality Italian sausage
- chopped onion
- 500g broccoli, cut into flowerettes
- cold water
- 3/4 tbs passata
- 50g pancetta, diced
- salt and pepper
- olive oil
- Fry the pancetta in a little oil until it starts to render its fat. Cut half the sausages from their skins and crumble the meat, add this to the pan and continue to fry until the pancetta has given up most of its fat but before it crisps up, by this time, about 10 minutes, the sausage meat should have taken on a little colour. You may want to drain off the excess fat at this stage. Traditionally this dish has no garlic but I like to add a chopped clove at this point and cook for a minute or too extra.
- Add the broccoli and remaining sausage cut into chunks, give the pan a stir to mix everything up then add the passata and enough water to cover the ingredients. Cook uncovered for 30 minutes or so at a reasonable boil. Keep an eye on it and if the liquid is evaporating too soon cover, or add a little more water, or both. The final sauce should be slightly thickened.
- Serve hot, either on its own which would be the Italian way, or with potatoes or rice
- Italian sausages are made exclusively of meat and so respond well to this type of dish. Poorer quality sausages will tend to dissipate into a soup so ensure you use the real thing!