Polenta is a classic north Italian staple, typically served with rich hearty sauces such as ragù. I used to wake up on Sundays to my mum cooking polenta. It's not traditional to use pork sausage in ragù but it's delicious.
- 1 white onion, finely diced
- 1 celery stick, finely diced
- 1 large carrot, finely diced
- olive oil, for cooking
- 1 kg Italian sausages (with no fennel), casings removed
- 185 ml (¾ cup) good-quality red wine
- 5 large very ripe ox-heart tomatoes
- 250 ml (1 cup) salt-reduced chicken stock
- ⅓ cup tomato paste concentrate
- 3 garlic cloves, finely diced
- 3 fresh bay leaves
- 1 sprig basil
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp caster sugar
- 1 litre (4 cups) water
- 1 pinch table salt
- 1 cup coarse polenta
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 cup mixed finely grated parmesan and pecorino cheese, to taste
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
For the ragù, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-low heat. Add the onion, celery and carrot and cook until softened but not coloured.
Increase the heat to high, crumble in the sausage meat and use a spoon to break up clumps.
Add the wine and cook until it has evaporated.
Cut the tops off the tomatoes, squeeze out the seeds and finely chop the flesh and add the tomatoes.
Add the stock, tomato paste, garlic cloves, bay leaves, basil, oregano, cayenne and sugar. Allow to come to the boil, then reduce the heat and gently simmer until the tomato starts to breakdown.
Season with salt and pepper, reduce the heat to low and keep warm until ready to serve.
For the polenta, bring the water and salt to the boil in a large saucepan. While whisking, pour in the polenta in a slow stream, and whisk until it begins to thicken and pull away from the sides of the pan.
Reduce the heat to low, cover with a lid and stir every 5-6 minutes until the polenta is soft.
Add the butter, stirring until melted.
Add the cheese, stirring until melted.
Remove from the heat and leave with the lid on for 5 minutes before serving with the ragù.
Photography, styling and food preparation by China Squirrel.
This recipe is from The Chefs' Line - a brand new series airing weeknights at 6pm on SBS. Can the passion of a home cook beat the skills of a professional chef? Missed all the action? Catch-up online and get all the recipes #TheChefsLine.
This recipe has been edited by SBS Food and may differ slightly from the series.