Pork sausages are a wonderful addition to dinners and I’ve grown up making sausages with my father for many years. At first it was just to help wash dishes and make coffee while all my uncles and cousins came to prepare the pork and fill the casings. Later on, I was allowed to help my dad trim the fat and cut the pork into pieces that would fit in the meat grinder and add seasonings before they were slowly tucked into the casings.
Whether you make your own sausages or buy local Ontario pork sausages you will surely find a variety of flavours to choose from. They have such versatility as well! Grilling or roasting the sausages make for a perfect fit to tuck into a bun or serve alongside roasted or grilled potatoes and other vegetables. By removing the sausage meat from the casing you can continue to create delicious flavoured meals as all the seasoning is there. Whether its a chunky pasta sauce or filling for a pepper it will be a meal your family will request.
In this recipe from my newest cookbook, “Per La Famiglia: Recipes and Memories of Southern Italian Home Cooking,” the simplicity of sausage meat creates a hearty sauce to enjoy with creamy polenta. A bonus for those who may not like polenta is serving it over mashed potatoes or pasta. One of my favourites is to tuck the sausage and rapini mixture into a bun and enjoy it for lunch the next day. Italian food at its simplest, with tons of flavour.
As comforting as mashed potatoes, polenta fills your tummy with warmth and nutrition. The cornmeal is cooked to become smooth and thick, while being topped with garlic spiked rapini and pork sausage makes this a hearty dinner for an autumn evening.
Makes 4 servings
- 1 bunch rapini, trimmed and coarsely chopped
- 1 cup (250 mL) water
- 2 tbsp (30 mL) extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Italian Ontario pork sausages, casings removed
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 tsp (1 mL) hot pepper flakes
- 1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
- 4 cups (1 L) homemade stock or low sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup (250 mL) cornmeal
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) water
- 1/3 cup (75 mL) freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
- 2 tbsp (30 mL) chopped fresh Italian parsley
- Shaved Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, optional
- Bring water to boil in a large nonstick skillet. Add rapini, cover and steam for about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally or until tender. Drain well and set aside.
- Return skillet to medium heat and add oil. Cook sausage, breaking up with spoon for about 6 minutes or until no longer pink inside. Add rapini, garlic, hot pepper flakes and salt; cook for 5 minutes or until beginning to become golden.
- Polenta: Bring broth to boil in saucepan and gradually whisk in cornmeal. Bring to a gentle simmer, stirring frequently, for about 12 minutes or until polenta mounds on spoon. Stir in water to loosen slightly and stir in cheese and parsley until cheese is melted.
- Spoon polenta into shallow soup bowls and top with rapini and sausage mixture. Top with shaved cheese, if using.
- Tip: For a more casual presentation, stir the rapini and sausage mixture into the polenta before serving.
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Emily’s career has taken her from restaurant and hotel kitchens, Canadian Living Test Kitchen and Food Network cooking shows to media and TV celebrity chef. Throughout this time she has always stayed true to her love of good food and getting people interested in cooking and enjoying great flavours.
Her new cookbook “Per La Famiglia”, focuses on her Southern Italian heritage and family inspired recipes, out this summer published by Whitecap.