Ciao Italia - Layered Polenta Pie with Mushrooms and Sausage
This is going to be three-part series, and the first recipe I'm going to share with you is my very, very favorite - a sausage and polenta pie that will make your heart sing. This dish is so good that when my husband and I first tasted it, we just started at each other in disbelief.
Author Stephanie Stiavetti
2/3cupdried Porcini mushrooms
1-1/2poundssweet pork sausageremoved from the casing
2 to 2-1/2cupsprepared tomato sauce
Freshly ground black pepperto taste
1cupgrated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
Put the mushrooms in a bowl and cover them with hot water. Set aside and allow them to soak to rehydrate them for at least 35 minutes. This step can be done a day ahead.
Combine the water and milk in a large saucepan; stir in the cornmeal and whisk it until it dissolves. Over medium-high heat, cook the cornmeal, whisking constantly until the polenta thickens and begins to leave the sides of the pan and forms a loose ball.
Scoop the polenta out onto a lightly oiled large cutting board or baking sheet and spread it evenly. Allow it to cool. It is best to refrigerate the polenta for an hour before slicing it or make it ahead and hold it covered overnight in the refrigerator.
Drain the mushrooms, reserving the water. Chop the mushrooms coarsely.
Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a sauté pan and cook the loose sausage grounds until they are browned. Add chopped mushrooms to the pan with the sausage.
Stir in the tomato sauce and cook for 20 minutes. Add 1/4 cup of the porcini mushroom liquid and cook 20 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper.
Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C). Butter a 9 X 12-inch casserole dish.
Spread a thin layer of the sausage sauce in the base of the casserole dish. Cut the polenta into 1/2-inch thick slices to fit the pan and make a layer in the casserole over the sauce. Spread more sauce over the polenta and sprinkle with some of the cheese.
Continue making layers, ending with the polenta and sprinkle the top with the remaining cheese and dot with the butter.
Bake until the cheese is nicely browned and the casserole is hot, about 25 to 30 minutes.
Let the casserole stand for about 5 minutes before cutting.