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Baked Italian sausage ragu with polenta

Baked Italian sausage ragu with polenta
Randi Lynn Beach / For The Times

Today, California cooks can get their hands on almost anything an Italian cook can, from pasta made with heirloom wheat to bottarga from Sardinia. Prosciutto di Parma is almost as common as honey-baked ham. We can buy burrata still dripping ... Read more

Total time: 2 hours, 25 minutes | Serves 6
  • 1 1/2 pounds Italian sausages
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 4 ounces thinly sliced pancetta
  • 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 6 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage leaves
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 2 cups roughly chopped fresh tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked polenta
  • 6 ounces mozzarella di bufala, diced
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Step 1Prick the sausages at 1/2-inch intervals. Heat the oil in a 4-quart pot over medium-low heat. Add the sausages and slowly brown them on all sides for about 10 minutes; remove to a plate.

Step 2Cut the pancetta into large dice. Add the pancetta, onion, garlic, pepper flakes, sage and rosemary and cook until tender, 15 minutes. Add the tomato paste, wine and beef broth and cook for 5 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes more. Return the sausages and any remaining juices to the pot and simmer for 10 minutes.

Step 3Remove the pot from the heat and transfer the sausages to a cutting board. Slice them lengthwise, then cut crosswise into half-moons. Return the sausages to the pot, along with any juices left on the cutting board. Add the parsley and set aside.

Step 4Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Layer one-half cup of polenta, one-fourth of the ragu and one-third of the mozzarella in a 9-inch square baking dish. Sprinkle with a third of the Parmigiano. Repeat for 2 more layers, then top with the remaining ragu. Bake for 1 hour, 15 minutes. Let cool slightly, then cut into 6 servings.

Note: Make the polenta first. Paul Bertolli prefers freshly milled polenta; he gives a source and recipe in his book "Cooking by Hand." But any polenta may be used.


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