A creamy cornmeal porridge, polenta used to be made of other grains, such as hulled barley, spelt, buckwheat or chestnut flour before in the 16th century Christopher Columbus brought corn from the Americas back to Europe. A staple of Northern Italian cuisine, polenta is more than just a side dish. It is extremely versatile, eaten as a freshly cooked mush, cooled and then grilled or fried, or thinly spread out to be dried and baked to make polenta crisps. Instant cornmeal polenta is widespread nowadays and reduces the cooking time to a mere 2-3 minutes. Adding Parmigiano-Reggiano to the polenta enhances its fairly simple flavour to a delightfully creamy and savoury taste sensation. Polenta pairs well with tomato sauce, mushrooms, fried eggs or sausages. This recipe has combined mushrooms and spicy sausages to serve up a hearty meal for this fast approaching autumn. Buon appetito!
For 2 portions
2 thick, spicy sausages (or 4 Merguez), cut in chunks
150g woodland mushrooms (e.g. Shitake, Oyster, Eryngii or Champignons)
½ large white onion, thinly sliced
Knob of butter for frying the sausages
Dash of sea salt and black pepper
For the polenta:
100g instant cornmeal polenta
100g grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Knob of butter
Dash of sea salt
For the parsley oil:
50ml extra virgin olive oil
Handful fresh parsley
Dash of sea salt
What you’ll need:
Large kitchen knife
Small fine mesh sieve
- For preparing the parsley oil, take a large handful of fresh flat or curly parsley and chop it up. Combine the chopped parsley and about 50ml extra virgin olive oil in a blender and blitz. Let it sit for approximately 30 minutes while preparing the main meal.
- Thinly slice the onion, cut the sausages and any large mushroom pieces into smaller chunks and fry in some butter until the meat is cooked through. Add a dash of sea salt and black pepper for taste.
- In the meantime, prepare the polenta by mixing 100g of cornmeal with 400ml of water and cook on low heat. Instant polenta will thicken very fast and needs to be stirred frequently to avoid burning on the bottom. Once the polenta is thick and throws bubbles, turn off the heat and stir in grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, a knob of butter and a dash of sea salt for taste.
- By now, the parsley oil should be sufficiently infused. Take a small fine mesh sieve, place it over a jar or glass and pass the oil through it. It should have taken on a light green colour from the parsley.
- Divide the polenta into two portions, add the fried sausage and mushroom pieces and round of the dish with a generous drizzle of parsley oil. Serve immediately.
(Credit to: Castelli/Parmigiano for these beautiful recipes)