Popular in Northern Italy, this polenta dish is pure comfort food. A rich, sun-dried tomato and sausage ragu is served ove...
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I made this recipe (and polenta) for the first time yesterday. My version was okay, but not great. In all, the sausage ragu was too oily and the polenta was too salty. Here are some thoughts:
1) I'm wondering whether I should have drained the oil from the sausage after I browned it and/or drained the sun-dried tomatoes.
2) I'm wondering whether it makes a difference that I put tomato puree (good tomatoes I passed though the passattuto) and not an actual tomato sauce or passata, which I still don't quite understand.
3) After my ragu had simmered for a couple of hours, really it was just the sausage that was left. It definitely didn't have the texture of the picture in the recipe. Suggestions?
Robert it sounds like there may have been a few things that just needed a bit of tweaking. First off, I would say that if the polenta was too salty, then perhaps next time I would just use a bit less salt. Did you use kosher salt or table salt? I am just curious as the recipe calls for kosher which is less salty than table.
With regards to the ragu, I think that you may have just needed to trust your instincts with this one, as you questions are good ones. If the sausages seemed too oily then perhaps I would have drained them.
As for the sun-dried tomatoes, you ask if you should have drained them. The answer is yes. I think you may have just over looked that in the recipe, as it does say to drain them before adding them to the dish.
As for the tomato puree you used, I guess without trying it or seeing myself I am not %100 sure of what may have been the issue. It could have been that the tomatoes just didn’t have tons of flavor themselves or it could have been that you just reduced the sauce down too far.
By the way, the tomatoes passed through a passattuto are pretty much the same thing as passata. I often use passata over fresh tomatoes. This is for a few reasons, one I don’t always have the time to do it myself. Also, passata is generally very flavorful as it is made using only fresh ripe tomatoes. Of course some brands are better than others.
As for the consistency of your sauce…you say “after my ragu had simmered for a couple of hours”…I think that is likely the reason why you only had sausage left, you likely just let it reduce down too far. The original recipe says to cook it for about 30 to 45 minutes. When I say that I sometimes cook it for several hours, I am constantly monitoring it to make sure it is not drying out. I also keep it covered with a lid slightly ajar. But again you just want to keep an eye on it. If it looks like it is getting too dry, either stop or add a bit more liquid. I sometimes add milk or cream (as stated in the recipe). I can tell you this though, the photo of my ragu is not food styled in any way.
I would say to give this another try as this is where the real learning comes in. Hope this helps, keep up the good work!
I have made this before and absolutely loved it! So hearty and satisfying. I want to make it again tonight, and I am wondering what type of vegetable dish would go well with this. It is a pretty complete meal by itself, but it would be nice to have some veggies, too!
We have not tested this recipe using vermouth instead of white wine, but I imagine that it would be fine. Of course, it won't be the same as if you were to use red wine but again, it should still be good. If you end up using vermouth, please let us know how it turns out. Cheers!
You sound like me Lea—the first time I make a recipe, I like to stay pretty close to the ingredients/method. The second time however is a different story—that's when I am okay to experiment i.e., using vermouth instead of red wine.
With that said, I don't think that you will be disappointed in the red wine in this sauce. Besides, now you have something to drink while the sauce cooks :-)
I am like that. Until I know what it's "supposed" to taste like, I want to stay close to the recipe. Once I'm comfortable with it, I relax and experiment (sometimes I succeed and sometimes I fail miserably). That said, after eating it I definitely think the zin was the right choice here. It added a richness that I don't think the vermouth would have.
This was also my first time making polenta. I must admit that I made that just from the recipe and didn't go through the entire lesson for polenta. I made the polenta with just water and salt. I know you can add stock but I wanted to try it plain first as I've never had polenta before. I'm calling it a success. It's amazing to me how many flavorful dishes are "poor man's food" (I.e. simple, cheap ingredients that taste good that you can use to feed a large family without breaking the bank).
Overall, this was a great way to start 2013!
Nice work Lea. Glad to hear that you had success with your first polenta making. You are certainly right that it is a cheap, yet delicious, way to feed a crowd.
Next time, try making it with stock and see if you notice any difference. Cheers!