Tuesdays. The week has just begun, and the chores are only just starting to pile up.
I came home with something new. It was velvety and luscious. A real sauce of a tomato. I set it on the counter and it glowed in the afternoon light. In the fridge, five sausage links were chilling. I took them out and stripped them bare; tossing their casings away, to hang off the garbage bowl haphazardly.
Three shallots were peeled and fell under my knife. I left them in a fine dice. Then did the same with two cloves of garlic.
I pinched the sausage links into bite sized pieces, and the sausage fell apart. The cold meat slowly warmed in my hands as I rounded off each piece between my palms; turning it from turgid strips of meat into soft little balls.
I put my favorite pan on the stove, and gave it a nice glaze of olive oil. I used a sausage ball to spread the oil over the surface of the pan until it glistened. Then I turned up the heat until the olive oil was hot and the pan radiated heat so that I could feel just above the pan’s surface. I nestled each of the sausage balls into the olive oil on the pan; and left them to sizzle.
I flipped my sausage balls and tried to sear each side, or at least get a relatively even coloring on the balls. I then added my shallot, sage, and garlic to the mixture and stirred gently; allowing them to melt into the heat. When the mix was mostly dry, and just starting to get lazy and stick to the pan; I added the new tomato sauce. I had to stir vigorously to convince the shallots and garlic to allow the newcomer access to the pan; but in the end they yielded and melded together like old friends.
I set the timer for 20 mintues.
In a medium pan, I easily brought 4 cups of salted water to a boil. To calm the argument, I whisked in 2 cups of coarse-ground cornmeal. The cornmeal always wants to clump together and not mix, like all good party-goers should. The water, already madly bubbling, calms a bit when the newcomers arrive, but never for long. I kept whisking, and eventually the cornmeal got thick with the water, and the boiling water convinced the cornmeal to get angry and start popping. I reduced the heat and changed from my light-hearted whisk to a solid, flat-bottomed spatula–with which I beat that poor cornmeal until it stopped popping — pulling it up off the bottom of the hot pan and destroying its reason to stay mad. I then covered it and put it back on the reduced heat, repeating the process every time I heard it objectionably pop.
When the timer went off, I popped off the lid to the sausage mixture, and added a can of freshly showered navy beans. They were clean and white, and almost dry. I stirred them in and then added the oregano, and black pepper; tasting as I went.
I took the polenta off the heat entirely and poured it onto a plate. It was putty in my hands. I molded it into a round cake-shape, and left it there to get a grip on itself.
I stirred the sausage mixture one more time and left it to sit on the cold stove for 5 minutes.
Then I cut the polenta into slices, layered them on the plate and added 2 heaping ladle-fulls of Martedi on top.
Dinner was served.
Inspired by FayeFood‘s dinner on a Tuesday. Modified a bit. This makes enough for 2 hungry people and a lunch. The recipe doubles and triples well, so long as you have a big enough pan. Stores for up to a week in the fridge, 6 months in the freezer. Feel free to use your favorite type of beans, and any type of sausage. Seasoning should always be to taste.
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 5 sausages, casings removed and cut into bite-sized pieces
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 cups pureed tomatoes
- 1 tin beans, well rinsed (any type of beans will do)
- 2 teaspoon dried sage, or to taste.
- 3 teaspoons dried greek oregano, or to taste.
- black pepper, to taste.
- Add the olive oil to the pan, spread it evenly, and turn on the heat.
- When the pan feels hot about 1/2 an inch above the surface, add the sausages.
- Sear off the sausages in a hot pan. Drain any excess oil.
- Add the garlic, onion, and sage. Stir to incorporate.
- Add a can of pureed tomatoes and deglaze the pan.
- When this has cooked for a good twenty minutes, add the beans, and other seasonings.
- Allow to boil down for another 20 minutes. Serve hot over bread, rice, or polenta.
The simplest of recipes for twice as much polenta as 2 people need. Takes about 20 minutes to make, most of it unattended. Best served with a meal that has a good sauce. Leftovers can be baked (polenta croutons) & topped (polenta pizza), or used below another dish that has a good sauce. Stores for up to 2 days on the counter, a week in the fridge, and in the freezer for 6 month.
- 4 cups water
- 2 cups coarse-grain cornmeal
- Salt, to taste
- Salt the water. It should just barely taste salty, like a kiss on the tongue.
- Bring the water to a rolling boil.
- Whisk in the polenta, break up any clumps that form. Keep whisking until the mixture looks evenly spread out through the water.
- Allow to thicken, stirring occasionally to pull it off the bottom and sides. Reduce the heat as you go so that its boiling (popping) doesn’t burn.
- Cook for about 20 minutes.
- If it is always sticking (and you are forever adjusting the heat to get it to stop popping), add 1/2 a cup of water to the mix and pull it off the heat. Stir well to incorporate the water, and keep it covered.
- Pour it onto a plate and shape it into the desired form. Careful – it’s sticky; so use either saran wrap to shape it or a wet spatula.
- Let sit for 10 minutes to come together.
- Slice and serve.