One 28-ounce can peeled Italian tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Pinch of crushed red pepper
Salt and freshly ground pepper
6 fresh sweet pork sausages (about 2 pounds)
7 cups water
3/4 cup Calamata olives, pitted
1 1/2 cups instant polenta
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Flat-leaf parsley leaves, for garnish
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and cook over moderately low heat until translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes, red wine, balsamic vinegar, tomato paste, sugar, oregano and crushed pepper; season with salt and pepper. Simmer the ragout until it thickens slightly, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook the sausages in 1 cup of the water over moderately high heat, turning occasionally, until cooked through, about 12 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and thickly slice crosswise on the diagonal, then stir into the ragout with the olives. Keep warm.
In a large saucepan, bring the remaining 6 cups of water to a boil with 2 teaspoons of salt. Add the polenta and cook, stirring, until thick, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter, rosemary and 1/2 cup of the cheese; season with salt and pepper. Transfer the polenta to a large platter and make a well in the center. Ladle the sausage ragout into the well, garnish with the remaining 1/4 cup of cheese and parsley leaves and serve.
The berry fruit flavors of a California Zinfandel are a nice contrast to the polenta's rich tomato ragout. Pick a full-bodied example that will stand up to the sausage.