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Author Notes: I am passionate about these kinds of foods. I used a really coarse cornmeal and cooked it a very long time according to the Genius Recipe, also on Food52. I recommend the same for anyone making this dish. I chose not to use overly complicated ingredients because I didn't want it to be fussy. I also chose dried herbs because the packets in the plastic clamshells are expensive. This dish is also very, very kid friendly. —thirschfeld
Serves 6 to 8
For the sausage
- 12 ounces pork tenderloin, loin or sirloin
- 5 ounces pancetta, cut into small cubes
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled (the number depends on their size -- if they are large, cut them in half)
- A handful of flat leaf parsley leaves
- A scrape or two of fresh nutmeg
- 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
- Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
For the ragu
- 1 recipe Carlo Middione's Polenta Facile (recipe also on Food52)
- 1 recipe homemade sausage, from above
- 1/2 cup yellow onion, small dice
- 1/2 cup carrots, small dice
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 2 cups pork or chicken stock
- 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen peas
- chopped parsley and chives
- Lay your pork out onto a large cutting board. Cut the pork and pancetta into thin strips, then into cubes. Spread the pork out so it is flat instead of in one big pile. It's okay if it isn't in one single layer, you just don't want a big pile. Place the palm of your hand, as shown in the picture, across the blade of the knife making sure to keep your fingers up and your hand flat. This will keep you from cutting your hand if the knife slips. So fingers up! What you are doing is creating a hinge of sorts because you want to keep the tip of the knife on the board and in doing so it lets you apply more cutting force.
- Run the knife through the pork several times and until you have minced it to a coarse mince. Add the garlic cloves, parsley, a teaspoon of salt, a few grinds of pepper and the nutmeg. Mince the seasonings into the pork until you have a fine mince.
- Add the red wine vinegar and knead it into the sausage. Ball up the sausage, put it in a bowl and let it get funky in the fridge for an hour or two.
- Start the polenta. I let my polenta cook over a simmering water bath for almost three hours. I was using an heirloom corn I grew last year called Henry Moore. It took a long time to cook but it was creamy beyond my wildest expectations. So take your time with the polenta, cook any bitterness out of it and let it do its thing.
- When the polenta is close to being finished, start the sauce by placing a large 12 inch saute pan over medium high heat. When it is hot add a glug or two of oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Brown the sausage. Once the sausage is brown remove it to a plate. Be careful not to burn the fond on the bottom of the pan. Add the onions and carrots and cook them gently until they just begin to wilt.
- Add the tomato paste, dried thyme, rosemary, garlic and bay leaf. Stir until fragrant then add the white wine. Let the wine burn off the alcohol and then add the stock. Season and taste. Bring it to a boil and reduce it by half. Taste again and adjust the seasoning.
- Add the sausage and peas. Heat until the peas are warmed through. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Add a tablespoon of chopped chives and parsley. Stir.
- Spread the polenta on a platter, top with the peas and sausage, and serve.
- This recipe is a Community Pick!
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