My family loves polenta though we only seem to enjoy it in the fall and winter when we seem to crave heartier food. Although we’ve had an extremely warm fall so far here in Umbria, last week I decided to treat my husband with a new polenta dish I had been thinking about. Polenta is so versatile and you can do so many things with it that we never get tired of it although when I’m really in need of a good plate of comfort food, I love a bowl of creamy soft polenta topped with either a simple tomato sauce and grated cheese or a hearty ragu. For this dish, I decided to layer polenta with some mushrooms and sausage as well as some creamy cheese and bake it until it was bubbly and golden. Although I made my baked polenta in one large terracotta casserole dish, this recipe would be great prepared in small individual casseroles.
This is a hearty dish and a little goes a long way so serve as a main course with a nice crisp salad and crusty Italian bread. Read more about polenta in my post Polenta Practicalities!
Deborah Mele 2012
- 4 1/2 Cups Water
- 1 1/2 Cups Coarse Cornmeal
- 3 Tablespoons Butter
- 1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan or Pecorino Cheese
- Salt & Pepper
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 4 Sausage Links, Casings Removed
- 8 Ounces Mushrooms, Cleaned & Slices
- 1/2 Medium Onion, Diced
- 2 Cloves Garlic, Peeled & Minced
- 1/2 Teaspoon Dried Thyme
- 1/2 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
- 4 Tablespoons Chopped Fresh Parsley
- 1 Cup Grated Melting Cheese Such As Scamorza, Fontina, Asiago
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Place the oil in a heavy skillet and brown the sausage meat until no longer pink.
- Add the mushrooms, onion, and garlic, and cook over medium heat until everything is soft and golden brown.
- Season with thyme, oregano, parsley, salt and pepper and set aside.
- Pour the water into a medium pot and season with salt and pepper.
- Whisk the cornmeal as you pour it into the water to prevent lumps, then bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to medium and cook for another 5 to 7 minutes until thick.
- Fold the butter and cheese into the polenta until completely mixed.
- Lightly greasy an ovenproof casserole and pour in half the polenta.
- Scatter all but 3/4 cup of the sausage mushroom mixture over the polenta.
- Scatter 3/4 cup of the cheese on top of the sausage mixture, then cover with the remaining polenta.
- Top the polenta with the 1/2 of sausage mixture and remaining cheese, then bake for 25 minutes until golden and bubbly.