This polenta with sausage, peppers, and fennel is outstanding. For so many reasons, if I may add.
To start, I experimented with using Real California Milk queso blanco and dry jack instead of the Italian standards - fontina and parmesan.
The flavors came out even tastier in my opinion because Real California Milk cheeses are where it’s at! Not a bad way to add to the three recommended servings of dairy per day by many trusted health organizations, right? You can read more about that here!
My second bragging right: Adrian and I made the polenta from scratch.
When I mean from scratch, I mean we grew Anasazi corn in our garden last summer and dried it. Seeing that we had some sitting on the shelf in a glass jar, we pondered what we’d do with it THIS time. In the past, we’ve made corn and wheat tortillas, a labor of love, so our goal this time was ease and simplicity.
“How easy is it to make your own polenta?” we wondered. I found out that it’s easier than it sounds. Simply grind corn kernels to a fine consistency and you’re good to go.
Last but not least, I decided to add acorn squash to boost the nutrition! It worked like a charm. Did I mention that we grew the acorn squash and harvested it in JANUARY? That’s quite unusual for the Northern Hemisphere...
What can I say, it was a special polenta recipe.
You can make your own special polenta by following the recipe below!
Polenta with Sausage, Peppers, Fennel, and Real California Milk Cheese
Time: 1 Hour
12 oz pre-cooked Italian Chicken Sausage, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
1 red bell pepper, seeded, thinly sliced
1 medium shallot, thinly sliced
1 large fennel bulb, quartered, then cut into 2-inch pieces
1/4 cup fennel fronds, coarsely chopped
1 to 2 habaneros, seeded and thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small acorn squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups Real California heavy cream
1 1/3 cup fine-ground polenta (not instant)
1/2 cups shredded Real California Milk queso blanco
1/4 cup Real California Milk Dry Jack, grated
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Grated Real California Milk Dry Jack
Set oven rack to the top top position. Preheat broiler.
In a medium bowl, toss the chicken sausage, bell peppers, shallot, fennel, fennel fronds, habaneros, garlic, olive oil, and sherry vinegar. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Transfer vegetables to a foil-lined baking sheet and roast for 10 minutes, until softened. Stir vegetables and roast for another 10 minutes, or until lightly browned.
Bring 2 inches of water to a boil in a large pot. Place squash in a steamer basket and steam for 15 to 20 minutes, until soft. Allow to cool slightly and puree squash in a blender with 1/4 cup cold water.
Return squash puree to the pot and add chicken broth, heavy cream, and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Slowly stir in the polenta and reduce heat to medium. Continue stirring occasionally for 20-30 minutes, until the polenta is tender and creamy.
Stir in queso blanco, dry jack, and nutmeg to the polenta and allow cheese to melt. Season to taste w/kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Add polenta to bowls and top with sausage and vegetables. Garnish with dry jack and parsley if desired.