Chicago-style Baked Polenta

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Pizza and I have a bit of a history together. One of my first jobs as a teenager was in a big chain pizza restaurant, and I grew up making homemade thin crust pizzas with my dad. I had no concept of deep dish anything really. Even more so, that it could be such a varied dish. The weather this past February was brutal; it was so windy and cold tights became a necessity, and my mind inevitably went to Chicago.

The last time we were in Chicago, Davis and I were attending the Pitchfork Music Festival in 2011. We found the city in the middle of a heat wave so intense my pasty self turned lobster red, even sitting in the shade. I enjoyed hearing Beach House’s set as I lay down like a grassland lion and napped under an umbrella in the harsh sun. We got to see some old friends and see all the landmarks from one of my top five all time favorite movies – High Fidelity. Even despite injuring my foot on a 4 mile run and Michael Bay cutting off most of the city due to filming Transformers 3, I had a fantastic time.

Upon our return, I even took virtual real estate tours of available rentals to try and imagine a life where we lived there. It wasn’t a bad life, but I have moved on to imaginary real estate tours of other areas of fine nature when a little downtime leads me into a geographical daydream.

Culinarily, I fell in love with the vegetable, meat and sauce-laden pile of deliciousness that is the Chicago Deep-Dish style pizza. Things are finally starting to move beyond the freezing temperatures we saw earlier in the year, but hopefully this dish can warm up your day.

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What you’ll need:

  • Polenta – 2 cups
  • Water – 3 cups
  • Butter – 1 tbsp.
  • Plum tomatoes – 1 16 oz. can, peeled
  • Red onion – 1 onion, halved
  • Green pepper – 1 cup chopped, sautéed
  • Italian sausage – 3 links, cooked
  • Parmesan cheese – 1 cup
  • Salt – to taste
  • Pepper – to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350
  2. In a buttered pan, add your polenta, water, a pinch of salt and parmesan cheese
  3. Bake polenta covered with aluminum foil for 20 minutes. Uncover the pan and cook for an additional 20 minutes until golden brown on top and firm throughout.
  4. In a pan on the stovetop, add together your plum tomatoes, red onion, green pepper, salt and pepper in a medium pot. Stir frequently so that the tomatoes fall apart. Cook over low medium heat for 20 minutes until all the flavors are well blended. Discard your onion and add your cooked sausage.
  5. Place the tomato and sausage mixture on top of the polenta and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Serve warm. If you plan on keeping some for leftovers, then keep the polenta and tomato mixture separately and serve cornbread style (a square of polenta and cover with your sauce)
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4 thoughts on “Chicago-style Baked Polenta

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