Just to prove that I can and do still cook on occasion, what with all these fancy schmancy restaurant reviews peppering the pages of late.
This dish is a highly unfaithful recreation of a dish I was fortunate enough to enjoy at a Slow Food Perth lunch in a what seems like a lifetime ago, making sausages at the home of Vincent Vitrelli. After wading our way through a good 100 kg or so of pig, we had time for a spot of lunch. The dish of the day for me was a delicious creamy polenta topped with Monte San Biagio sausage mixture, simmered in a little white wine.
This attempt had nowhere near the finesse of course, but I am happy to announce that my love of polenta is now assured, as is my ability to think of it as something other than the dry brick served at some Italian restaurants.
For the Ragu
Take a couple of good chorizo sausages (I had neither so I used some fairly ordinary chorizo and upped the paprika , chilli, and garlic levels myself) cut them up into chunks and set them to simmer in a glass or two of red wine. Add chopped garlic, onions, and tomatoes, and let it simmer until it starts to break down. At this point I added some chicken stock, salt, pepper, and passata, and then just let it all reduce down to a stewy consistency. A dash more paprika, and some fresh parsley finished off the dish, which was probably cooking for 30 mins or so.
For the Polenta
Despite what you may be thinking, there is no real trick to it. Aside from make sure your polenta is well lubricated with water, a little milk to finish, and I season mine with butter, salt, and cracked pepper. I’m not sure if this is heresy or not, it may well be, but it personally tastes like cardboard otherwise…
Whilst I’m happy for the polenta to be the starchy vehicle to drive the ragu home in a nice marriage of texture with flavour, I would prefer to be able to do something with it on it’s own.
I used a pretty standard brand, and initially used 3 cups of water to 1 cup of polenta. Set this on a medium heat and bring it to the boil… then reduce and let it simmer and bubble away until it gets thick. At this point I add more water, half a cup at a time, and continue stirring until it absorbs. Somewhere down the line, add some milk, a 100g of butter, and a good dose of salt and pepper, until the flavour is something in the realms of tastiness and the texture is soft and gooey. I like my polenta quite runny, and find it cool to watch the science experiment take place as it firms up on the plate when served.
I’ve been told its ready when the polenta starts to stick to the sides of the pan properly, but that seems an inexact method for me, so just let you conscience be your guide.
Serve it with a rioja or perhaps some fava beans and a nice chianti…