Three pillars of Italian cooking made better together: fennel sausage, zesty tomato sauce, and creamy polenta. This recipe comes to us from Ada Boni’s The Talisman Italian Cook Book. Boni’s writing had few frills, and her rustic recipes followed suit. But a seemingly simple dish of whole sausages braised in marinara has spicy-sweet, cooked-all-day flavor. Garnish with torn fresh basil or Italian parsley leaves for a bright, herbaceous finish.
For the sausages and gravy
- 4 hot or sweet Italian sausage links (about 1 1/4 lb.)
- 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 small yellow onion, chopped
- 1⁄4 tsp. kosher salt, plus more as needed
- 1⁄8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large can (28-oz.) whole peeled tomatoes, cut or torn into small chunks, juices reserved
- 1 small can (8-oz.) tomato purée (sauce)
- To make the sausages and gravy, prick the sausages once each with a fork and place in a large saucepan with 2 tablespoons water. Cook over medium heat, turning occasionally, until the sausages are well browned, 10–12 minutes. Add the garlic, onion, salt, and pepper; cook for 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Add the tomatoes and their juices, and the tomato purée. Simmer about 1 hour.
For the polenta
- 3⁄4 lb. cornmeal
- 2 tsp. kosher salt, or more to taste
- 3 tbsp. grated Romano cheese, or more to taste, for serving
- To make the polenta, place 6 cups water in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Trickle in the cornmeal, whisking to incorporate. Continue cooking, whisking or stirring frequently, until the cornmeal is tender and thickened, about 15 minutes. Add more hot water as needed to achieve a thickened but slightly runny consistency. Stir in the salt. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.
- To serve, transfer the polenta to a large platter. Top with the tomato gravy and sausages. Sprinkle with the cheese, or more to taste.