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Polenta with Meat Sauce

This is comfort food at its finest: a quick-cooking Bolognese sauce, made with sausage, tomatoes, aromatic vegetables, and a touch of light cream, served over a mound of earthy polenta. Of course, you could put the same sauce over fettuccine instead.

  • Servings: 4

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  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds mild Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1 1/2 cups canned crushed tomatoes in thick puree (from one 15-ounce can)
  • 3/4 cup canned low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock
  • 6 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons light cream
  • 4 1/2 cups water
  • 1 1/3 cups coarse or medium cornmeal
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan, plus more for serving


  1. In a large deep frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over moderately high heat. Add the sausage and cook, breaking up the meat with a fork until no longer pink, about 3 minutes. Tilt the pan and spoon off all but 2 tablespoons fat. Reduce the heat to moderate. Add the carrots, onion, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables start to soften, about 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in the wine and let simmer 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, broth, 4 tablespoons of the parsley, the bay leaf, and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Uncover, add the pepper, and simmer 5 minutes longer. Remove the bay leaf. Stir in the cream and the remaining 2 tablespoons parsley.
  3. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, bring the water and the remaining 1 1/4 teaspoons salt to a boil. Add the cornmeal in a slow stream, whisking constantly. Whisk in the remaining 3 tablespoons oil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until the polenta is thick, about 20 minutes. Stir in the Parmesan.
  4. Serve the polenta topped with the meat sauce. Pass additional Parmesan.

Suggested Pairing

Homey food calls for a simple but flavorful red wine. For a touch of regional authenticity, select a Sangiovese di Romagna.

Photo © Erin Kunkel

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