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Smoked Sausage Ragù and Parmesan Polenta

A simple way to add smoked flavor to ragù sauce, and served over some creamy polenta. Recipe adapted by Pedroncelli Winery.
Course dinner
Cuisine Comfort Food, Italian, smoked meat
Keyword sausage ragu with polenta, smoked sausage ragu, smoked sausage recipe
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Servings 4 servings

Ingredients

For the Smoked Sausage:

  • 1 lb. bulk Italian sausage broken up into quarter-sized pieces (or the equivalent weight or links, with casings removed)

For the Ragu:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small red onion minced
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 ⁄4 cup finely chopped basil leaves
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the Polenta:

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1 ⁄4 cups polenta also known as corn grits or cornmeal
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan loosely packed, plus more for garnish

Instructions

To Smoke the Sausage:

  • Preheat smoker to 225 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Place sausage spread out on a large foil-lined cookie sheet in small quarter-sized clumps.
  • Smoke for 60 minutes and remove. Look for a darker color on the exterior while still moist (we’re not worried about cooking to a perfect temperature here because it will continue cooking in the sauce).

For the Ragu and Polenta:

  • Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, 6-8 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 additional minute. Add the smoked sausage and the tomatoes and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer until integrated and thickened (about 40 minutes). Finish by adding the basil, vinegar, salt, and pepper.
  • When sauce is halfway ready, bring 4 cups of water and 1 cup of milk to a boil in a medium saucepan. Slowly add polenta and cook, stirring constantly, and reduce heat to low. Continue stirring occasionally until desired consistency (I like a very creamy texture) around 15-20 minutes (*see notes on polenta exceptions). Remove from heat and add butter, parmesan, and additional salt, and stir together. Serve by ladling a large spoonful of the polenta into a serving dish then add the smoked sausage ragu, and top with additional parmesan cheese if desired.

Notes

*The length of time it will take you to cook your polenta will depend on the grind of cornmeal you use. Make sure to refer to your cornmeal package for their specific instructions.