Sausages truly are a cross-cultural food, showing up in almost every cuisine. Polenta calls for Italian sausages, but this recipe is adaptable to other varieties as well. The sweet-acidity of the grapes and green tomatoes nicely balances the richness of this dish.
1 cup coarsely ground cornmeal
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme leaves
4 spicy Italian pork sausages (1 lb.), preferably flavored with fennel
4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 tbsp. finely chopped garlic
1 tbsp. finely chopped ginger
4 green tomatoes (about 1 1/2-lb.)
1 cup chicken or beef stock
1/2 lb. seedless red grapes, cut in half
1/2 lb. seedless green grapes, cut in half
2 tbsp. honey
1/4 tsp. hot red pepper flakes
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 small head radicchio, cut into 1/2-in. strips
- In heavy, med.-sized saucepan, bring 6 cups water to a boil over high heat. Season with salt. Whisk cornmeal into boiling water in a slow steady stream in order to avoid lumps.
- Bring mixture back to a boil; reduce heat to low. Cook until polenta is very thick and shiny, about 40 min., stirring constantly. Regulate heat as necessary so mixture doesn’t boil over.
- When polenta is done, stir in cheese, butter and 1 tsp. thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Pour into shallow baking dish, 12 in. in diameter.
- Preheat broiler. Cut tomatoes in half, remove stems and arrange halves close together, skin-side up, on a baking sheet. Set under broiler; broil until skin is charred, about 5 min. When cool enough to handle, remove skin and chop tomato, seeds and all, into 1/2-in. dice.
- With fork, prick sausages 4 times on each side so they don’t burst while cooking. In large, heavy bottomed skillet, combine sausages and 1/4 cup water; cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 5 min. Remove the cover. (At this point the water should have evaporated—if not, just continue heating another min. or two with the cover off until the skillet is dry. )
- Add 2 tbsp. olive oil to skillet; increase heat to med. and brown sausages, turning so they color all over, about 10 min. Transfer sausages to a plate.
- Add onions to same skillet; season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook until onions start to brown around edges, about 6 min. Add garlic and ginger; cook until aromatic and tender, about 2 min.
- Add green tomatoes and stock; return sausages to skillet and cook 30 min., uncovered, turning sausages occasionally so they cook evenly. (Adjust heat as necessary; you want sausages to cook while the sauce thickens, but not so rapidly that the sauce finishes before the sausages cook through.)
- Set sausages on top of polenta. (Sauce should be fairly thick. If it isn’t, return skillet to heat, increase heat to med.-high and cook until thick.) Pour sauce over the sausage and polenta.
- In small bowl, combine grapes with honey, red pepper flakes and remaining thyme; toss well. Wipe out skillet and add remaining olive oil; place over high heat. Add grapes and sear 1 min. Add radicchio; cook, tossing frequently, until radicchio wilts and grapes soften around edges, about 2 min.
- Add vinegar; give one last toss and distribute radicchio-grape mixture evenly over the sausages and polenta.
- For service, preheat broiler. Place skillet several inches from heat and cook until grapes are charred and everything is hot, about 5 min. Let rest 4 minutes and then serve.