Tonight’s dinner was from Biba’s Italian Kitchen. It was one of the recipes that my Mom had marked that she wanted to make. I do not know if she ever made this. But as I was eating tonight I imagined her and my Father enjoying this meal. The polenta, as simple a dish as it is, was the perfect base for this amazing sauce to rest on. I did not follow the recipe as it was written in the book. Mushrooms are not used in our kitchen. But damn it was delicious without them. And I suppose I cheated by using Instant Polenta but seriously it is so much easier and faster!
My version of Polenta Pasticciata, Baked Polenta with Meat Sauce from Biba’s Italian Kitchen.
Instant Polenta, prepared according to package
1 pound mild sausage
1 pound ground pork
2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp olive oil
1 cup finelly minced yellow onion
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups chicken broth
3 tbsp tomato paste
Salt and pepper to tast
Prepare the polenta. Spread it 1/2 thick on a cookie sheet and let it cool.
Remove the casing from the sausage and chop very fine. Heat the butter and oil in a medium-size saucepan over medium heat when the butter foams add the onion and cook stirring 3 to 4 minutes until the onion is pale yellow. Add the sausage and the ground pork. Cook, stirring to break up the meat with a large spoon until the meat loses its raw color, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the wine and cook until it’s almost reduced, 3 to 4 minutes.
Stir the tomato paste into the broth and add to the saucepan together with a cup of water. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally until the sauce has a medium thick consistency, 1 to 1 1/2 hour. If the sauce reduces too much add a bit more water. At this point the sauce can be made several days ahead.
Preheat the oven to 400. Warm the polenta, slice and serve with a generous serving of sauce and Parmesan cheese.