Homemade Italian Sausage Patties with Goat’s Cheese Polenta

by Kristin on November 26, 2009

The first Thanksgiving I spent in Ireland, in 1999, I was very blasé about it beforehand; I still remember that I’d planned to make enchiladas that night. But at the last minute, I got a little weepy and ran out to the grocery store to see what I could find that might be more fitting, and bought some turkey escalopes and a jar of Ballymaloe cranberry sauce instead. My last Stateside Thankgsiving was in 1998, and although we’ve always cooked a traditional dinner every year, celebrating with anywhere from two to twelve friends and once even family, when my dad and stepmom came over for a visit, it’s just not the same.

So as long as I’m feeling homesick, today’s as good a day as any to talk about Italian sausages, one of the foods I still miss. There were plenty of foods I missed and craved when I first moved. I used to ask anyone who came to visit to bring me a bag of bagels, not even caring that they’d be stale by the time I got them, and Matt always requested an economy-size jar of Skippy peanut butter. Once or twice I’ve brought cans of Libby’s pumpkin puree back in my suitcase so that I could make pumpkin pie. I gradually stopped hankering after most of the foods I missed, but I’ll never stop wishing for a ready supply of Italian sausages. When we visited my mom in Florida earlier this year, she asked if there was anything in particular we wanted for dinner, and the only thing I requested was Italian sausages and peppers, one of her signature dishes. If I wasn’t feeling homesick already, just thinking of that dinner would do it. It’s one of the dishes that will always taste like home to me.

Happy Thanksgiving to all our readers, wherever you may be!

Home-made Italian sausages with Goat’s Cheese Polenta
adapted from A Kitchen Year by Paula McIntyre

Serves 4

for the sausage patties:
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, ground
1/2 cup (120 ml) red wine
1 3/4 lb (800 g) pork mince
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon chopped fresh red chili
1 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
1 teaspoon salt

for the sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, peeled and finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup (120 ml) red wine
1 x 14-oz (400‑g) can chopped tomatoes
3/4 cup (180 ml) chicken stock
salt and freshly ground black pepper
a handful fresh chopped flat-leaf parsley

for the goat’s cheese polenta:
1 1/2 pints (700 ml) chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 lb (225 g) polenta
1/2 cup (50 g) grated Parmesan cheese
3 oz (90 g) goat’s cheese
handful fresh chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
salt and freshly ground black pepper

To make the sausage patties, place the onion, garlic, fennel seeds and red wine in a saucepan and boil until only 1 tablespoon of liquid remains. Cool. Mix this with the pork and the remaining ingredients. Form into walnut-sized balls and press down to flatten.

To make the sauce, heat the oil in the pan over a high heat and add the sausage patties. Cook until sealed and golden on both sides, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside. Lower the heat and add the onions and garlic, cooking until they’re golden, about 10 minutes. Add the wine and bring to the boil. After 2 minutes, add the tomatoes and stock. Cover the pan with a lid and simmer for 30 minutes. Check the seasoning and add the parsley.

To make the polenta, bring the stock to the boil. Slowly add the polenta in a steady stream into the stock, whisking all the time. When all the polenta is incorporated, lower the heat to s gentle simmer. Cook, stirring frequently, until the polenta comes away from the side of the pan. This will take 40 minutes for traditional polenta and about 5 minutes for the instant variety. Add the Parmesan and mix well. Crumble the goat’s cheese and fold into the polenta with the parsley. Season to taste.

To serve, divide the polenta between the individual serving bowls, place sausage patties on top and spoon over the sauce.

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