I have recently come to love Italian sausages. I get these wonderful sausages from The Parson's Nose on Lower Richmond Road in Putney called Bunga Bunga sausages and lately I'm trying to find any excuse I can to use them in my cooking - they're that good! This tray bake is kind of like a lasagna, but with polenta instead of pasta. It's super filling, tasty and polenta is naturally gluten-free, so it's perfect for people who aren't eating pasta due to dietary restrictions. I'll admit, it's not much to look at, but it's packed with flavor and warms up nicely as leftovers.
I've used cup measurements here for the cheese instead of weight measurements because honestly, they are just guidelines. You can make this as cheesy as you like. If you want to cut down on the cheese or add more, go for it - the choice is yours.
750ml chicken stock
75g unsalted butter
2 cups skim milk
1 1/2 cups quick-cook polenta
1 tablespoon garlic oil
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup finely shredded grated Parmesan cheese
1kg Italian sausages
680g jar of passata
1/4 teaspoon dried chili flakes
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon basil
Sea salt flakes & freshly ground pepper to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Spray a large baking tray or roasting tin with non-stick cooking spray and set aside. Also, remove and discard the casings from the sausage meat and set aside.
2. In a large saucepan, bring the chicken stock and butter to boiling. In a separate mixing bowl, stir together the milk and polenta with a wire whisk. When the stock and butter are boiling, add the polenta by pouring in a slow, steady stream while stirring. Continue to cook and stir until the polenta mixture starts bubbling and then continue stirring and cooking for about another 5 minutes or so until it becomes quite thick.
3. Stir in 2 cups of the mozzarella cheese and 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese little by little until melted and well-mixed.
4. Remove the polenta from the heat and spoon 2/3 of the mixture into the baking pan. Smooth it and set aside.
5. In a large frying pan, cook the sausage meat until browned and cooked through, breaking up with a wooden spoon as you cook it. When it's just about cooked, stir in the chili flakes, dried oregano and basil, stir and leave for at least 1 minute on the heat to sizzle away, but not long enough to burn.
6. Stir in the passata and use a little water to get all of it out of the jar if you need to. Continue cooking for about 10 to 15 minutes until thoroughly cooked and heated through. Season with sea salt flakes & freshly ground pepper to taste.
7. Spoon the the sauce over the polenta in the prepared tray. Additionally, shape the remaining polenta into balls using a spoon and place them on top. Sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella & Parmesan cheese and bake uncovered for about 20 minutes or until golden and slightly blistered.