Pinky swear this is NOT a recipe blog, but I did promise to share our kitchen successes on this blog and since finish school and going back to JUST working full-time, we’ve been spending a lot more dark, rainy nights in front of our fireplace, savouring our own home cooking. I promise to correct this soon, but in the meantime I think you will forgive me if you try making this stewed kale and sausage.
Pretty much everything that needs a bed of carbs these days has been served over quinoa in our house but seeing Emily’s polenta with mushrooms and gorgonzola, and Redbook’s Double Corn Polenta in the latest issue, I was inspired to give the humble cornmeal another chance. Boy am I glad I did. If pasta and mashed potatoes made lurve…….this is what they would eat afterward.
This is comfort food to the max and can be varied endlessly. I think my next attempt will be chorizo or andouille sausage with spinach for the stew and Monterey jack cheese in the polenta with a little salsa in the sauce instead of Dijon.
Stewed Kale and Sausage over Double Corn Cheesy Polenta
1 large bunch of kale
½ sweet onion, diced
1 cup button mushrooms, whole or sliced
1 large clove of garlic, thinly sliced
½ cup chicken broth
½ cup white wine
1 T butter
Fresh herbs (rosemary to match sausage)
Three lean, flavourful sausages (I used garlic rosemary chicken sausage and hot Italian bison sausage)
1 t Dijon mustard
½ cup cornmeal
1 cup milk
1 cup water
1 cup fresh corn kernels
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup parmesan and/or romano cheese
1 T butter
Sauté whole sausages over med-high heat in a little olive oil until browned on all sides and nearly cooked through (you will be putting them back in the pan to finish off so don’t let them cook all the way through or you’ll end up with dry sausage meat). You won’t need oil if you use a fatty sausage and/or a non-stick pan but I use aluminum pots and lean meats like bison or chicken so they need a little helping along. Plus, a little olive oil turns the casings crispy and golden.
Remove sausages from the pan and add onion. Turn heat down slightly and sauté onion until transluscent and soft, about 8 minutes or so. Add garlic and mushrooms and let cook until mushrooms are browned. Add salt, pepper, and fresh rosemary to taste.
De-rib your kale and pull apart into pieces. Add to the sauté pan along with the white wine and chicken stock. Cover it and let that kale wilt a few minutes on medium heat while you start the polenta.
In a large pot, bring the water, milk, and corn to almost a boil over high heat. Add the cornmeal, turn down to medium heat and begin whisking. Making polenta is easy—you just can’t skimp on the stirring. Use a whisk and switch to a wooden spoon when the polenta starts to get so think that it gets caught in the whisk, rather than floating right through it.
After a few minutes of stirring the polenta, take a quick break to stir the Dijon into the sauce and add the sausage. Make sure you nestle them into the kale so it can absorb the sausage flavours. Cover it back up again and let it simmer on low heat while you finish stirring the polenta to the finish line.
You’ll notice the polenta start pulling away from the edges of the pot and acting more like a mass. Take it off the heat just as this starts so you can incorporate the butter and cheese smoothly. Season it very last, since the cheese will have added some salt (as will the butter if you don’t use unsalted like I do).
To finish the dish, remove the sausage and slice thickly on the diagonal. If you like your sauce a little thicker, now would be the time to do the old cornstarch trick, right before adding the sausage slices back into the final stew. This particular step helps with my sausage paranoia and Mr. ST’s frustration with the North American tendency to overcook sausages until they’ve busted and release every last ounce of moisture. If your sausages aren’t quite done, you can just put them back in, let simmer for a while longer covered, until you’re home free.