Monday, May 16, 2005

Pumpkin Polenta With Italian Sausage and Fennel

Pumpkin Polenta With Italian Sausage and Fennel (Adapted from Rachael Ray)

3 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons butter
1 3/4 cups mashed pumpkin
1 cup coarsely ground cornmeal
16 ounces sweet Italian turkey sausage
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 cup thinly sliced onion
1 medium fennel bulb, quartered, core removed and thinly sliced
1/2 cup dry white wine
fresh ground black pepper
1 cup fresh grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
1/4 cup chopped parsley

In a large saucepan, bring chicken stock and butter to a boil - whisk in pumpkin and allow mixture to come back to a boil. Gradually whisk in polenta and season with salt - reduce heat to a bare simmer and cook, stirring often, until the mixture is very thick and the cornmeal has softened, about 45 minutes. If the mixture gets too thick, add a little extra hot water to loosen. When done, remove from the heat - season with salt and fresh ground black pepper. Stir in cheese, thyme and nutmeg.

Meanwhile, heat a medium skillet over medium-high. Add sausage and cook, stirring to crumble, until browned. Scoop sausage out onto a paper towel-lined plate. Add oil to the skillet and stir in onion and fennel - cook until the onions have softened, but have not taken on any color, about 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in wine and cooked sausage - cook until the wine has almost evaporated, about a minute or two. Serve by topping a portion of the polenta with the sausage and vegetable mixture. Sprinkle each serving with the chopped parsley.

Makes about 4 servings.

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