Every Day I’m Fenneling… Sausage Polenta Bake

Every Day I’m Fenneling… Sausage Polenta Bake

God, I do love the internet thing when it comes to cooking.

Don’t get me wrong, I treat my stack ‘o cookbooks like they’re Fort Knox. And for research ~ menu development ~ experimentation ~ food porn, I wouldn’t trade them for the world.

But days like today, when I’ve got no real interest in prowling through pages, I can type a list of five ingredients I want to use in The Google ( because lord knows, I love The Google) and voila! I’ve got 15 or so recipes I can mix and match to come up with something tasty for dinner.
It’s like playing Garanimals with celebrity chefs… a little Martha, Giada’s teeth, Alton’s receding hairline, and a couple of Chuck’s Tatts….

My Polenta Bake is based largely on Martha Stewart’s recipe Baked Polenta with Sausage… but I still have a load of fennel to do something with… and I didn’t like the idea of (and I wasn’t going to go out and just buy..) packaged polenta… and Giada had an Italian sausage pasta recipe with Sun-dried Tomatoes that sounded pretty good… and someone else mentioned that lemon and polenta went well together… and Chuck  made making polenta look pretty easy (but I didn’t use his recipe)… and I only had canned  artichokes / not marinated… and… and… and…

It’s always a process…

Making Polenta

Firm Polenta, or as I like to call it – Sticky Grits – is basically congealed corn mush. And, with a little determination and a bit of time, you can make some every bit as good as those fleshy tubes you see on the grocer’s shelves.

You Will Need:
2/3 Cup Plain Yellow Cornmeal
2 Cups Water (I am using a butter substitute that is 65% water. So, if you are using real butter, you will need to add back an additional tablespoon of water to the pot)
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
2 Tablespoons Butter Substitute (or 1 Tablespoon REAL Butter)
Medium Sauce Pan
Rounded Bowl

Place the meal and 1 cup of water in the pot and let sit for 15 minutes off the heat. (Whisk wildly for a minute or 2 to make sure lumps don’t form)
Place the pot on medium high heat and begin to whisk steadily
Gradually add in the remaining cup of water
When the  polenta begins to boil, reduce to low and stir constantly for 15 minutes
It will thicken considerably, like this:

Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the butter until it is completely incorporated

Transfer the warm polenta to a rounded bowl, smooth it in evenly, and allow it to cool completely

Once it is cool and firm to the touch, place a plate on top of the bowl and invert the polenta onto the plate

Sausage Polenta Bake

with Artichokes, Fennel and Dried Tomatoes

Serves 4


3 Links Italian Sausage

1 Can Artichokes (or 1 Bag Frozen)

3 Pieces Sun Dried Tomato

2 Stalks Fennel (the green part – OR use 2 Ribs Celery)

1/2 Large Onion – Thinly Sliced

1 Clove Garlic – Minced

1/2 Cup Chicken Stock

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

2 Tablespoons Italian Dressing (or your fav vinaigrette)

Zest and Juice from 1 Lemon

1 Cup Grated Fontina Cheese

Medium Skillet

Shallow Baking Dish

Preheat the oven to 425 .  Remove the casings from the sausage and saute with the garlic  in the olive oil – breaking the links up into 1″ pieces; cook until lightly browned.  Mince the sun-dried tomatoes; thinly slice the fennel stalks and onions.  Lift the sausage out of the pan and add in the onions, fennel and minced tomato.  Saute until the onions are translucent.  Add in the artichokes, dressing and lemon zest cook for 2 minutes on medium.  Salt and Pepper for taste.  Remove from the heat and add the sausage back to the pan – mix well.  Slice the polenta into 1/4″ slices.  Alternate layering the sausage mixture and polenta into the baking dish.

Mix the lemon juice and stock together and pour over the pan

Bake at 425 for 30 minutes – until the polenta is crisped on the edges and the liquid is bubbling
Remove from the oven and top with the grated fontina cheese

Serve with a fresh green salad

4 thoughts on “Every Day I’m Fenneling… Sausage Polenta Bake

  1. Phong – Texturally, it's similar to a couple of things in Asian cuisine made with rice flour or rice paste – and for your purposes, you probably could substitute either of those in.It was pretty damned tasty, though 🙂

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