Chef Dave's Polenta Casserole

  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 1 hr 35 min
  • Prep: 45 min
  • Cook: 50 min
  • Yield: makes 8 servings
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1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/2 pounds sweet Italian sausage, removed from casings and crumbled

1 cup chopped onions

1 cup chopped green bell peppers

1/2 cup chopped red bell peppers

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 1/2 teaspoons Emeril's Italian Essence, or other Italian seasoning blend

2 cups canned whole tomatoes with their juice, crushed

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Salt, depending on saltiness of sausage

Creamy Polenta, recipe follows

2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Creamy Polenta:

4 cups milk

2 cups chicken stock, or canned low-sodium chicken broth

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

1/8 teaspoon plus a pinch of mace

1 3/4 cups polenta or fine yellow cornmeal

1 cup grated Parmesan

3 large eggs

2 large egg yolks


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the sausage and cook until browned, breaking up clumps with a wooden spoon, about 5 minutes.
  3. Transfer the sausage to a paper towel-lined plate.
  4. Add the onions and bell peppers to the pan and cook until they begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and Italian Essence and cook for another 2 minutes.
  5. Return the sausage to the pan, stir to mix, and cook for another minute. Add the tomatoes and stir to mix. Cook until most of liquid has evaporated, about 7 minutes. Season with the black pepper and salt.
  6. Pour the sausage mixture into a 9 by 13-inch baking dish, distributing it evenly. Pour the polenta on top, spreading it evenly with a rubber spatula.
  7. Top the polenta with the butter and Parmesan. Bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 30 minutes.

Creamy Polenta:

  1. Combine the milk, chicken stock, salt, white pepper, and mace in a large pot over high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Whisk in the polenta. Once the mixture begins to thicken, reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook until the polenta is tender, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon and scraping down the sides of the pot, about 10 minutes. Add the Parmesan and stir to blend. Remove from the heat and stir to cool for 3 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the eggs and egg yolks in a medium bowl and whisk until frothy.
  3. Add 1/2 cup of the polenta to the eggs (to temper) and whisk to blend. Gradually add the egg mixture to the rest of the polenta (in about 3 additions), stirring constantly. Continue to stir vigorously for another 2 minutes. Reserve for the casserole.