Thursday, February 22, 2007

Crisp Polenta Triangles with Sherry-Garlic Sausage Saute

I use polenta as a smooth, creamy bed for a huge variety of foods. I love the soft texture of the cornmeal that soaks up all the juices on the plate and fills your stomach with warmth. So, why would I cook polenta any other way?

Try these polenta triangles once, and you'll understand. I definitely did. Pan-fried for a few minutes on each side in a shallow pool of very hot olive oil, the polenta develops an irresistibly crisp golden crust. They are still soft and tender on the inside, but hold together so you can eat them like crostini with fresh tomato-basil salsa or a hot saute of onions, garlic, tomatoes and spicy turkey sausage cooked with sherry.

It may look deceptively basic, but this is an amazing sausage dish. Taking your time to brown the sausage and simmering it in the tomato-sherry sauce brings out intense flavor that is the perfect balance of meat, wine and garlic. Mike created this dish and often uses it as a sandwich filling. But, over our golden polenta triangles, it made me want to light some candles and pretend we were in a homey little Italian restaurant... buon appetito!

Crisp Polenta Triangles
You can also use coarse cornmeal cooked according to package directions. The polenta will need at least two hours to cool, so plan accordingly.

2 c. chicken broth or water
1 c. finely ground cornmeal or instant polenta
¼ c. milk
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil, as needed

Bring the broth or water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Stirring constantly with a whisk, add the polenta in a slow but steady stream. It will thicken almost immediately, so just keep whisking until the cornmeal is blended and smooth. As soon as you have added the cornmeal, turn the heat to low. The hot cornmeal may spurt up at you as it boils, so stand back. Cook over low heat just until the polenta is smooth and thick, about 1 minute. Whisk in the milk, season with salt and pepper and remove from heat.

Coat a shallow baking dish (I used an 8 x 8) with cooking spray and pour the polenta into the dish, spreading it out to form an even layer. Cover and refrigerate until cool and very firm, at least 2 hours.

Cut the polenta into triangles and remove them from the dish.

Add enough olive oil to completely coat the bottom of a large, heavy skillet and heat to medium. Add as many polenta triangles as you can without crowding the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side or until golden. Add more salt and pepper if you like.

Turkey Sausage in Sherry and Garlic
Serves 4

1 tbs. olive oil
1 onion, sliced into half moons
salt and pepper
3 links hot turkey sausage
3 cloves garlic, minced
¼ c. dry sherry (not cooking wine)
1-14 oz. can diced tomatoes with Italian seasoning

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add the onions and sauté until soft, about 4 minutes. Push the onions to the edge of the pan and add the sausage links. Sear the sausage for 3-4 minutes per side. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Deglaze the pan with the sherry, then add the can of tomatoes with their juice. Adjust heat so the liquid is at a simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes or until the sausages are cooked through and the sauce is well-thickened.

Remove sausage links from skillet and slice on the diagonal. Return to skillet to coat with sauce and serve.

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Linda said...

wow this looks amazing. the polenta looks perfectly crisp on the outside and nice and soft on the inside. yum! do you know i've never had polenta! i've got to pick some up; it looks delish!

Patricia Scarpin said...

Those polenta triangles are just tempting, Julie! Yummy!

We eat a lot of fried polenta here in the region I live (packed with Italian descendants, myself included), but we deep-fry it. Your way of making it is a lot healthie - I'll give it a try!

Chris said...

I love polenta! And, the Turkey Sausage in Sherry and Garlic sounds so satisfying. Thanks!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

You've got my favorite things there: turkey sausage and polenta! That all looks heavenly good. And yes that would be wonderful stuffing for a sandwich but then on the polenta is perfect also! Hooray!

Lis said...

You've done it again.. made me drool before I've even finished my 1st cup of coffee of the day! This is now on my list of MUST tries.. I look forward! =)

Julie said...

Linda: Yes, you have to try the stuff.
Patricia: I actually prefer it not fried, or just pan-fried like I do here. Give it a try.
Chris: I promise the sausage dish is so yummy thanks to the sherry.
Tanna: thanks!
Lis: I hope you try it!

Peabody said...

I love fried polenta but I love mine with honey on it.

ann said...

this might sound stupid, but I recently "discovered" polenta. Seriously, I had somehow overlooked its amazingness for a few decades. I have no idea how this happened, but I'm happy to say it's been recitifed, and crispy polenta shapes are on my menu of things to do this weekend. So, thank you for the specs!

Mallika said...

Confession - I've never cooked polenta before! Apparently it's very healthy and ur blow by blow breakdown means I can definitely give it a go...

Julie said...

Peabody: That sounds awesome; kinda like cornbread with honey-butter.
Ann: All that counts is that you finally discovered's honestly one of my favorite things in any form.
Mallika: Cool! You'll be so glad you gave it a go...I hope it works well for you.

NYC Catering said...

Of course I will try this Crisp Polenta Triangles recipe but I may add some twists to it.

bars Singapore said...

You certainly shared the wonderful recipe of crisp polenta triangles with sherry. It is a very tasty combination