Sometimes full-blown cooking ideas just randomly pop into my head. This morning when I was trying to figure out what to have for dinner I remembered there was a package of bulk Italian sausage in the freezer and a clamshell of Roma tomatoes that needed to get used up. I thought that salsiccia would taste good as an ingredient in a chunky tomato sauce. Instead of pasta, I could serve it on top of polenta.
The funny thing is that I've never made polenta. However, I watch a lot of cooking shows and didn't think it would be that hard to do. With a half hour before I had to get ready for work, I did a Google search. The first result was for Giada De Laurentiis' polenta. I know she has good recipes, so I stopped my search there.
There were four ingredients for polenta: water, salt, corn meal, and butter. I boiled the water, whisked in the salt and corn meal, and let it cook on low until the cornmeal was tender and the mixture was thick. Next I spread it out into a baking dish, then put the dish in the refrigerator. (After it was in the pan I realized I'd forgotten to add the butter, but the dish turned out fine.) The whole thing took 25 minutes.
While the polenta was cooking I searched for a sauce recipe. The first result, Polenta with Sausage Ragu, was from Mario Batali, one of Giada's Food Network buddies. I used it more as an inspiration than an exact recipe because I didn't have all the ingredients and didn't have time to get them.
After work I browned the sausage, then added chopped onion, garlic, and carrots until they softened up. I diced the tomatoes and added them to the pot along with a can of tomato sauce, a can of tomato paste, a can of water, salt, pepper, oregano, basil, and a little sugar. The sauce simmered for about 20 minutes.
The last step was to cut the polenta into triangles and broil them in the oven until the edges got crispy. I cooked some frozen vegetables in the microwave, then plated everything up. Here's the (really good) result:
Five years ago today: Cover Construction