Polenta was one of the first things I learned to make when I took an active interest in cooking, and it was basically everything I could have asked for as a college student: easy, cheesy, inexpensive, and versatile. To this day, it’s still one of my go-to recipes when I want something quick and comforting. And in my book, quick and comforting is what early fall is all about! Okay, okay…I know it’s not technically fall yet, but with school back in session and morning temperatures here in Michigan dipping down into the 40s, it sure does feel like it.
This dish of sausage and peppers with polenta has all the flavor and down-home charm of a sausage and pepper pizza, but without the wait time—plus you can eat it in a bowl, which is always kind of cozy and fun (or is that just me?). All you have to do is brown the sausage and sauté the veggies for a few minutes (and the polenta cooks up in the meantime), so you can have dinner on the table in twenty-five minutes or less!
- 1 pound sausage, casings removed (see note)
- 2 cups diced bell peppers, any color (about 2 medium bell peppers)
- 1/2 cup diced onion (about 1/2 medium onion)
- 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil (optional)
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- salt and pepper (to taste)
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan (plus extra for garnish, if desired)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- Place the sausage in a large nonstick skillet and cook over medium heat until slightly browned. Transfer the cooked sausage to a bowl or plate.
- Cook the peppers and onion in the grease remaining in the skillet for 5 minutes (if the skillet starts to look dry, add 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil). Add the spices and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, until the vegetables are softened but a little crunch remains.
- While the vegetables are cooking, bring the chicken stock and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Once it boils, slowly pour in the cornmeal, whisking constantly to prevent lumps from forming. Cook until the cornmeal has absorbed the liquid (see note). Stir in the parmesan and butter (you may want to remove the pan from the heat first, if the cornmeal is sputtering).
- Mix the sausage and vegetables together. Serve on top of individual bowls of polenta and garnish with parmesan (if desired).
- I use turkey breakfast sausage, but feel free to use Italian sausage or a combination of sausage and ground turkey or beef.
- I use Kroger yellow corn meal, which I find absorbs the liquid within seconds and does not require additional cooking. If, however, you are using a coarser ground cornmeal, you may need to cook it for several minutes for it to thicken.