Chef Dave's Polenta Casserole

Total Time:
1 hr 35 min
Prep:
45 min
Cook:
50 min

Yield:
makes 8 servings
Level:
Intermediate

Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds sweet Italian sausage, removed from casings and crumbled
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 1 cup chopped green bell peppers
  • 1/2 cup chopped red bell peppers
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Emeril's Italian Essence, or other Italian seasoning blend
  • 2 cups canned whole tomatoes with their juice, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Salt, depending on saltiness of sausage
  • Creamy Polenta, recipe follows
  • 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • Creamy Polenta:
  • 4 cups milk
  • 2 cups chicken stock, or canned low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon plus a pinch of mace
  • 1 3/4 cups polenta or fine yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the sausage and cook until browned, breaking up clumps with a wooden spoon, about 5 minutes.

Transfer the sausage to a paper towel-lined plate.

Add the onions and bell peppers to the pan and cook until they begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and Italian Essence and cook for another 2 minutes.

Return the sausage to the pan, stir to mix, and cook for another minute. Add the tomatoes and stir to mix. Cook until most of liquid has evaporated, about 7 minutes. Season with the black pepper and salt.

Pour the sausage mixture into a 9 by 13-inch baking dish, distributing it evenly. Pour the polenta on top, spreading it evenly with a rubber spatula.

Top the polenta with the butter and Parmesan. Bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 30 minutes.

Creamy Polenta:

Combine the milk, chicken stock, salt, white pepper, and mace in a large pot over high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Whisk in the polenta. Once the mixture begins to thicken, reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook until the polenta is tender, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon and scraping down the sides of the pot, about 10 minutes. Add the Parmesan and stir to blend. Remove from the heat and stir to cool for 3 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the eggs and egg yolks in a medium bowl and whisk until frothy.

Add 1/2 cup of the polenta to the eggs (to temper) and whisk to blend. Gradually add the egg mixture to the rest of the polenta (in about 3 additions), stirring constantly. Continue to stir vigorously for another 2 minutes. Reserve for the casserole.


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