Italian Sausage with Roasted Grapes and Polenta

I know this might sound weird. And it’s not that pretty. But it’s delicious. I first spotted this recipe on The Bitten Word blog. They found it on the Bon Appétit site. The Bitten Word guys made some changes to the original Bon Appétit recipe, but they still weren’t that impressed. I was convinced there must be some way to save the recipe, it seemed full of potential.

I checked out the comments to the Bitten Word and Bon Appétit recipes and googled the three ingredients and got some ideas. I decided to add red onion (instead of shallot), garlic and fennel seeds to the pot, and use chicken broth and balsamic vinegar instead of white wine for the finishing touch. It was a success. I wasn’t sure what Jim would think because, like many men, he’s not a fan of meat and fruit combos, but he enjoyed it too.

If you avoid making polenta because you don’t want to be tied to the stove, stirring a big pot, you’ll be happy to know this polenta recipe is quick and carefree. Maybe it won’t measure up to authentic polenta, but I’m no judge. All I know is since I discovered this method of making polenta in another recipe, I’ve been making polenta a lot more often.

italian sausage roasted grapes polenta recipe

Italian Sausage with Roasted Grapes and Polenta

You’ll need a medium microwave-safe bowl, whisk, plate and large ovenproof skillet.

  • 3/4 cup medium-grind polenta or cornmeal (not instant polenta – my cornmeal was quite finely ground, but still worked well)
  • 3 large sprigs thyme
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Butter
  • Grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 pound fresh hot or sweet Italian sausages (turkey, chicken or pork – confession, I used pork. Maybe that explains why it was so good?)
  • 1/4 cup low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 pound seedless red grapes, off the stems
  • 1 red onion, thickly sliced
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds (optional)
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons chicken broth
  • Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped (optional)
  • Grated parmesan cheese (optional)

Preheat oven to 450. Put cornmeal and 2-1/2 cups water in a medium microwave-safe bowl and whisk to combine. Add 1 thyme sprig and season with salt and pepper. Cover the bowl with a plate and microwave for 4 minutes. Carefully remove the plate and whisk polenta. Cover and microwave for 4 minutes longer. Repeat until the polenta is soft and aromatic, adding more water by 1/4-cupfuls if gets too thick. I usually only do it once or twice more. Stir in the butter and parmesan. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep warm.

Meanwhile, heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausages and fry until browned, turning occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add broth, remaining 2 thyme sprigs, grapes, red onion, garlic and fennel seeds. Transfer the skillet to the oven.

Roast, turning grapes and sausages halfway through cooking time, until grapes begin to caramelize and sausages are cooked through and begin to burst, 12–15 minutes.

Spoon polenta into wide, shallow bowls. If it’s too thick, whisk in a little water, cover and reheat for a few minutes in the microwave. Remove sausages from the skillet and cut them into diagonal pieces. Arrange sausages over the polenta.

Add balsamic and chicken broth to the skillet. Stir over high heat, scraping up browned bits. Drizzle grape pan sauce over sausages. Sprinkle with parsley, if you wish.

Original recipes: Creamy Polenta with Sausages and Roasted Grapes, Bon Appétit and The Bitten Word

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