Polenta with Meat Sauce

This is comfort food at its finest: a quick-cooking Bolognese sauce, made with sausage, tomatoes, aromatic vegetables, and a touch of light cream, served over a mound of earthy polenta. Of course, you could put the same sauce over fettuccine instead.

Yield: 4
Recipe from Food & Wine

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Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds mild Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1 1/2 cups canned crushed tomatoes in thick puree (from one 15-ounce can)
  • 3/4 cup canned low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock
  • 6 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons light cream
  • 4 1/2 cups water
  • 1 1/3 cups coarse or medium cornmeal
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan, plus more for serving

Preparation

  1. 1. In a large deep frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over moderately high heat. Add the sausage and cook, breaking up the meat with a fork until no longer pink, about 3 minutes. Tilt the pan and spoon off all but 2 tablespoons fat. Reduce the heat to moderate. Add the carrots, onion, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables start to soften, about 5 minutes.
  2. 2. Stir in the wine and let simmer 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, broth, 4 tablespoons of the parsley, the bay leaf, and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Uncover, add the pepper, and simmer 5 minutes longer. Remove the bay leaf. Stir in the cream and the remaining 2 tablespoons parsley.
  3. 3. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, bring the water and the remaining 1 1/4 teaspoons salt to a boil. Add the cornmeal in a slow stream, whisking constantly. Whisk in the remaining 3 tablespoons oil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until the polenta is thick, about 20 minutes. Stir in the Parmesan.
  4. 4. Serve the polenta topped with the meat sauce. Pass additional Parmesan.
  5. Wine Recommendation: Homey food calls for a simple but flavorful red wine. For a touch of regional authenticity, select a Sangiovese di Romagna.
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