This simple, comforting dish adapted from Anna Watson Carl's cookbook The Yellow Table is a great one to make for dinner parties; the ragù improves over time, so make it the day before, and reheat it just before serving. The polenta can also be made ahead, but you'll need to whisk in a bit of water to loosen it while you warm it on the stove.
Yield: serves 4
- <sup>1</sup>⁄<sub>4</sub> cup olive oil
- 1 lb. Italian sausages, casings removed
- 1 red onion, minced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 (28-oz.) can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand
- 1 <sup>1</sup>⁄<sub>2</sub> tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- <sup>1</sup>⁄<sub>4</sub> cup finely chopped basil leaves
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 tsp. fine sea salt
- 1 <sup>1</sup>⁄<sub>4</sub> cups polenta (not quick-cooking) or yellow cornmeal
- <sup>1</sup>⁄<sub>2</sub> cup freshly grated parmesan, plus more for garnish
- Heat 2 tbsp. oil in a 4-qt. saucepan over medium-high; add sausage and cook, breaking it into small pieces with a wooden spoon, until browned, 5 minutes. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more. Add tomatoes and boil; simmer until thick, 20 minutes. Add basil, vinegar, kosher salt, and pepper; keep warm.
- Meanwhile, bring sea salt and 5 cups water to a boil in a 4-qt. saucepan; slowly add polenta and cook, stirring constantly, and reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until thick and creamy, 8 minutes. Remove from heat and add remaining oil, 1⁄2 cup parmesan, and kosher salt. Divide between bowls and top with ragù; garnish with more parmesan.
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