from Tonia Wilson’s Beer at my Table
Chilly winter nights call for warming, easy-to-throw together dinners. While this sausage and polenta dish looks fancy, it’s a cinch to make and boasts the earthy, savoury flavours of a rustic Italian dish.
Italy is a country that Ontario chef and Prud’homme Beer Sommelier Tonia Wilson knows well. She spent four years as Head Chef at the Canadian Embassy in Rome and even created a gala dinner for the Queen of England. This recipe is part of Wilson’s accessible and delicious cookbook, Beer at My Table, which is influenced both by her time in Rome and then another stint as Head Chef at the Canadian Embassy in Brussels, where she fell deeply in love with beer.
The dish’s rich and savoury flavours find new levels of depth when paired with Compass Brewing’s dry stout. The beer’s roasty notes highlight the sausage’s umami centre and its caramel flavours harmonize with the lightly seared peppers and meat. Plus, the ale’s light body doesn’t overwhelm this easygoing dish. —Crystal Luxmore
• 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
• 1½ lb (750 g) mild Italian sausages (or enough for 4)
• 2 sweet yellow or orange peppers, stemmed, seeded and sliced (about 3 cups)
• 1 tbsp tomato paste
• 1 can (14 oz/398 mL) diced tomatoes with their juice
• ½ cup Kalamata or other brined olives, pitted
• 1 tbsp coarsely chopped rosemary
• 1 cup fine cornmeal
• Salt to taste
1. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. Add the sausages and brown well, about 5 minutes per side. Remove the sausages from the skillet and set aside.
2. Pour the excess fat from the skillet. Add the remaining oil to the skillet and reduce the heat to medium. Add the sweet peppers and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes
3. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute to combine the paste with the peppers. Add the tomatoes, olives, rosemary and 1/4 cup water to the skillet and cook for 5 minutes more.
4. Return the sausages to the skillet, along with another 1/4 cup water and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and reduce the heat, then simmer for 25 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a pot over high heat. Slowly whisk in the cornmeal. Immediately reduce the heat to low and stir the cornmeal mixture. Simmer, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until the polenta is thickened, smooth and creamy, about 20 minutes. Season generously with salt.
6. When the sausages are cooked, remove the lid from the skillet and continue cooking, if necessary, until the sauce thickens. Divide the sausages and sauce among four plates and serve with the polenta.