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Sausages Braised in Tomato Sauce Over Polenta

A quick, savory dinner that features sweet Italian sausages, San Marzano tomatoes, and slow-cooked polenta.


  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup slow-cooking polenta Look for polenta that doesn't say "instant" or "quick-cooking."
  • Olive oil
  • 3 to 4 sweet Italian sausages The thicker the better here. (Save your skinny sausages for breakfast.)
  • 1 red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • Pinch red chili flakes, to taste
  • 2 cans San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand This will make lots of sauce; you can use the leftover sauce for pasta.
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • chopped Italian parsley


  • Start by making your polenta. Bring five cups of water to a boil and season with salt so it tastes like a good broth, but not like the sea (or it'll be too salty). Whisk in the polenta and continue whisking as it cooks to avoid lumps. Keep cooking like this until the polenta thickens; it'll start forming large bubbles and look slightly volcanic. Lower the heat to low and cover with a lid.
  • Stir the polenta every ten minutes with a wooden spoon. Let cook for 45 minutes to an hour. (It doesn't really matter, as long as you let it go a while; if it gets too thick, add a little more water.)
  • In a large skillet, pour in 1/4 cup olive oil and heat on medium high heat. Add the sausages and lower the heat to medium low. This is a tricky part: you want to brown the sausages all over, but if the heat is too high they might burst. So play with the heat as you brown them, taking your time to get them good and brown all over.
  • Remove the sausages to a plate, crank up the heat in the skillet, and add your red onion and a pinch of salt. Cook the onion until wilted and starting to brown. Add the garlic and cook until light golden brown. Add a pinch of red chili flakes and then add the tomatoes (careful, they'll spatter). Add a good pinch of salt and allow to cook on high heat, stirring, until the sauce starts to come together (a few minutes). Nestle the sausages back in, trying to submerge them as much as possible.
  • Cook at a high simmer, rotating the sausages every so often, until the sausages read 160 on a thermometer. Remove the sausages to a plate and continue cooking the sauce on medium-high heat until nice and thick. You'll have too much sauce, but that's okay.
  • To finish, remove the lid from the polenta. If it's still very runny, cook on medium heat until thickened to your liking. Off the heat, add the butter and about 1/2 cup of the grated Parmesan. Taste here and adjust with more salt and Parmesan.
  • To plate, ladle the polenta on to plates, top with the sausage, and spoon the sauce over the top. Garnish with the parsley and more Parmesan and serve right away.