Savory Polenta Cobbler in the Rain

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Sausage and Red Pepper Polenta Cobbler

It rained in LA! May I say that again? It rained in Los Angeles. It was the perfect kind of rain too. It built slowly all day, came down at night, and was gone by morning. The best part was, you could feel it in the air. You knew it was coming. By nightfall I began to hear the pings and pitter-patters on the copper awning outside my kitchen window. It made me happy to hear the soft landing of so many little drops. Did they know how welcome they were? Did they feel the gratitude of millions of people in this parched city? Naturally I was inspired to cook. So I set to work, surrounded by a warm kitchen and the rumbling of the rain. I came up with this Sausage and Red Pepper Polenta Cobbler. It’s basically a corn biscuit-topped casserole. But polenta cobbler has a much more romantic ring to it. Or should I say a more romantic ping to it– in honor of the rain?

Savory Polenta Cobbler

In North America cobblers are typically considered to be sweet, made with the best of the season’s fruit. But old-world versions were more likely to be savory. Since cobblers get their name from the cobble-stone streets common to old villages in Europe I thought a savory version deserved your attention. Mine has sausage and red peppers– classic Italian partners– baked under a polenta cobbler topping. It’s baked in the oven, and served fragrant and bubbling hot. The perfect accompaniment to rain.

It’s a simple one-dish-wonder too. Which is wonderful for both the cooks and the dishwashers in your house. I bring a variation of this recipe out whenever the weather allows. One pot meals, like this polenta cobbler, are pure comfort food to me. Maybe I’m referring to the comfort of not having a load of dishes to wash (maybe), but it’s more complex than that. In fact I think it has something to do with the rain. GREG

Sausage and Red Pepper Polenta Cobbler

Sausage and Red Pepper Polenta Cobbler

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 4Source From my book Savory PiesPublished
Sausage and Red Pepper Polenta Cobbler

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4-5 spicy Italian sausage, removed from the casings (about 1 pound)
  • kosher salt & freshly cracked black pepper, (as needed)
  • 1 medium onion (peeled, halved lengthwise & thinly sliced)
  • 2 red bell peppers (halved, ribs and seeds removed & sliced lengthwise)
  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour (divided)
  • 2 cup chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 3 cup loosely packed baby spinach (about 3 oz)
  • ½ cup quick-cooking polenta mix or yellow cornmea
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 6 tablespoon chilled unsalted butter (cut into ½-inch dice)
  • 1 ¼ cup heavy cream (plus 1 tablespoon for brushing)

Directions

Heat oil in a 12-inch cast iron or ovenproof skillet set over medium-high heat. Add sausage, season with a pinch each salt and pepper. Cook, breaking meat up with a wooden spoon until browned, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon remove sausage from skillet. Pour off all but about 2 tablespoons fat.

Add onion to skillet. Cook stirring occasionally until somewhat softened, about 5 minutes. Add red bell pepper and cook an additional 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl whisk together ¼ cup flour and tomato paste. Slowly whisk in chicken stock until well combined. Add this mixture to skillet. Stir in spinach and cooked sausage. Cook about 2 minutes until slightly thickened. Remove from heat. Taste for seasoning. May be prepared several hours in advance to this point.

Place oven rack in center position. Heat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a medium bowl whisk together remaining 1 ½ cup flour, polenta, baking powder, baking soda and ½ teaspoon salt. Using a pastry blender, two butter knives or your fingers, cut or rub the butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with various-sized but obvious chunks of butter scattered throughout. Add Parmesan, cutting or rubbing until lightly mixed. Stir in 1 ¼ cups cream until a rough dough forms. Drop 6 or 8 large mounds of polenta mixture over sausage mixture, 1-inch apart. Brush the remaining 1 tablespoon cream on top. Bake in the hot oven until bubbly and polenta topping is golden brown. A knife inserted in the center of polenta should come out clean, about 25 minutes.

Bring skillet to the table and serve warm.