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Creamy Polenta with Sausages and Roasted Grapes

Creamy Polenta with Sausages and Roasted Grapes


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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup medium-grind polenta (not instant)
  • 3 large sprigs thyme, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 pound fresh hot or sweet Italian turkey or chicken sausages
  • 1/3 cup low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 pound seedless red grapes, cut into bunches with stems attached

Recipe Preparation

  • Preheat oven to 450°. Stir polenta and 2 1/2 cups water in a medium microwave-safe bowl; add 1 thyme sprig and season with salt and pepper. Cover with a plate. Microwave for 4 minutes. Carefully remove plate and whisk polenta. Cover and microwave for 4 minutes longer. Repeat until polenta is soft, adding more water by 1/4-cupfuls if too thick, 10–12 minutes total, depending on strength of microwave. Stir in butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper; keep warm.

  • Meanwhile, heat a large cast-iron or ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausages and fry until browned, turning occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add broth, remaining 2 thyme sprigs, grapes, and shallots to skillet; transfer to oven. Roast, turning grapes and sausages halfway through cooking time, until grapes begin to caramelize and sausages are cooked through and begin to burst, 12–15 minutes.

  • Spoon polenta into wide, shallow bowls. Arrange sausages and grapes over. Add wine to skillet; stir over high heat, scraping up browned bits. Drizzle pan sauce over sausages. Sprinkle with parsley.

Recipe by The Bon Appétit Test Kitchen,

Nutritional Content

One serving contains: Calories (kcal) 460.4 %Calories from Fat 55.8 Fat (g) 28.5 Saturated Fat (g) 11.6 Cholesterol (mg) 66.8 Carbohydrates (g) 41.4 Dietary Fiber (g) 2.6 Total Sugars (g) 21.4 Net Carbs (g) 38.8 Protein (g) 11.5 Sodium (mg) 857.5Reviews Section

Italian Sausage Roasted Together with Grapes

If you haven’t tried the combination of Italian sausage with roasted with grapes yet, I’m quite certain that the minute you do this combo it will win you over. The grapes break down in the roasting process, releasing their sweet juice and mingles together with the sausage flavors of spice, fennel, bit of olive oil and thyme.

When grapes are roasted they take on a whole different taste and texture, sweet goodness in every little bite.

I like to keep my sausage formed into a ring, it’s held in place by sticking one skewer in on one side until it pokes out on the other side, making sure to go all the way through each layer, this will keep it together as it cooks. I think a ring of sausage, or rope as it’s sometimes called adds to a pretty presentation, but you can certainly make this using links of sausage as well.

Which brings me to another point, make sure you only buy good quality Italian sausage, I get mine from an Italian market that I know and frequent often, it’s spiced perfectly with fennel seed being a very dominant flavor, my favorite. For this recipe you can use either spicy or mild sausage, which ever is your preference.

My grapes of choice are the red seedless kind ( you definitely want seedless) but you can also do a combination of both red and green, just carefully pick them off the stems, rinse and dry completely then you’re good to go!

I love to serve this meal with sautéed broccoli rabe, the bitterness of the rabe with the sweetness of the grapes and the spice of the sausage is a win, win. For something a little more substantial, on a cold winters night a side of creamy polenta or mashed potatoes would be heavenly!

Incredibly easy to make, no chopping required, it’s a one pan wonder with a pretty presentation and the most important thing is, it tastes amazing.

Follow me on Instagram to see what else I’m cooking up during the week.


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Baked Sausages with Grapes

4 large hot Italian sausages

1 large sweet onion, sliced

2 tbsp (25 ml) balsamic vinegar (or sherry vinegar)

3 cups (750 ml) seedless red grapes, stems removed

1/4 cup (50 ml) chopped parsley

Mashed potatoes, polenta or grilled rustic bread

1. In large ovenproof skillet or saute pan, heat oil over medium high heat. Brown sausages and transfer to a plate.

2. Add onion to skillet and cook until soft and starting to turn light golden. Add vinegar and grapes. Return sausages to skillet. Prick sausages with a fork.

3. Transfer to preheated 400 F (200 C) oven and cook for about 20 minutes or until grapes start to soften and sausages are cooked through.

4. Garnish with parsley. Served with mashed potatoes, polenta, or grilled bread.


The Best Grape Recipes

Even more delicious ways to use your grapes besides simply popping them like nature’s candy, one by one.

1. Homemade Grape Jelly

One sure way to upgrade your PB&J? Use our Homemade Grape Jelly recipe for the peanut butter partner. You’ll need three and a half pounds of the most delicious black grapes you can get (Concord are ideal). They’ll cook down into just three jars of intensely flavored jelly, which you can store in the fridge for up to a month if you don’t actually want to go through the canning process.

Weck Mini Mold Jars, 12 for $44.95 from Williams Sonoma

Perfect for storing homemade jam for the short- or long-term.

2. Concord Grape Martini

Concord grapes truly are some of the most flavorful you can find, with tart and musky notes to balance their sweetness while we hope you have a few for garnishing our Concord Grape Martini recipe, you can still make it if not—thanks to bottled Concord grape juice. If you do have fresh Concords, try our Concord Fizz for something a little lighter. And know that easier-to-find red table grapes are also great in this Crushed Grape Cocktail recipe.

3. Grape and Grappa Focaccia

Forget raisin bread this lush Italian Grape and Grappa Focaccia recipe is incredible still warm from the oven. And it’s good even if you don’t have the grappa to drizzle on at the end. Try it with some cheese and a glass of wine, or serve it along with roasted chicken or sausages. If you have a fear of Fleischman’s, see our beginner’s guide to baking with yeast.

4. Grape and Almond Mixed Greens Salad

Fresh, plump, juicy grapes are an on-point addition to a salad with salty and savory elements like the sharp cheddar here this one also has nutty crunch from toasted almonds and a zingy garlic vinaigrette. Get our Grape and Almond Mixed Greens Salad recipe.

5. Moroccan Zucchini, Grape, and Bell Pepper Salad

Green grapes work just as well in green salads, but if you’re craving something different, our Moroccan Zucchini, Grape, and Bell Pepper Salad recipe is a refreshing change of pace. It’s light and bright with crisp and juicy textures and clean, fresh flavors, even before you get to the preserved lemon dressing or pops of mint and pine nuts. This is a stellar summer dish.

6. Turkey Waldorf Salad

Tossing halved grapes into chicken salad is a go-to move for me (whether it’s curried or Frenchified with tarragon and shallots), but if you have leftover turkey, our Turkey Waldorf Salad recipe is a no-brainer you’ll never regret.

7. Grape and Taleggio Grilled Cheese

If you’re still thinking about that focaccia but it also still seems like too much work, our Grape and Taleggio Grilled Cheese recipe is an easier way to enjoy the comforting combo of warm grapes and bread. Plus melty cheese, of course. See our tips for the best grilled cheese to ensure a perfectly crisp and gooey experience.

8. Seared Pork with Roasted Grapes

Savory meat plus sweet fruit is always a perfect equation, and roasting or sauteing grapes to serve as a simple pan sauce/side for pork is easy and delicious. The painterly Seared Pork with Roasted Grapes recipe above also has plums, but you could just as easily add grapes to our Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Figs and Pears. Or swap them in for the summer stone fruit in our Pork Chops with Fresh Cherry Sauce (knowing that it will have a sweeter flavor overall, but still be balanced).

9. Lemony Millet Pudding with Caramelized Grapes

Roasted or otherwise cooked grapes also work beautifully in sweet dishes, like this Lemony Millet Pudding with Caramelized Grapes recipe from Maria Speck. The grapes are simmered with wine, honey, sugar, cloves, and lemon zest until syrupy and sticky, and tipped over a creamy whole grain pudding. You can use plain grape juice if you’d like it to be nonalcoholic. And either way, the topping would be just as good over classic rice pudding or even pound cake.

10. Cardamom Cake with Mulled Wine Jam

This gorgeously minimalist Cardamom Cake with Mulled Wine Jam recipe from “Great British Baking Show” season 7 contestant and cookbook author Bejamina Ebuehi is full of warm holiday flavors and perfect for those who love mulled wine. Black seedless grapes are cooked into a quick jam with plums, cinnamon, star anise, nutmeg, sugar, lemon juice, red wine, and orange slices to go between the cake layers and on top, but you’ll still have some left over to spread on toast or fill thumbprint cookies. (Of course, you can always just make the jam to use any way you want…which might well be eating it straight from the spoon.)


Roasted Sausage and Grapes

Sausage and grapes…nothing new. A simple Google search will get you hundreds if not thousands of results with varying recipes all of which pretty much say the exact same thing brown the sausage and then add the grapes, pop them in a hot oven together to finish cooking. Or leave them on the stove to finish. It is your choice really. There is the option of adding herbs and various other flavor additions onions, garlic, shallots. The possibility of making a simple pan sauce with wine. Red or white. Or stock if that is what you have. Or not. Again, it is up to you and honestly with or without extra flavor additions or pan sauces, it is a dish worthy of a fancy dinner party or a weeknight dinner to be eaten at your desk. Please make sure you serve it over something luscious – creamy buttery mashed potatoes or polenta or even mashed cauliflower.

For the sausages, I prefer a garlic sausage to anything else and finding the butcher in town that sells such a thing is worth the trip. That is all the extra fuss this recipe requires and supporting a local butcher isn’t really fuss but necessary and good.

Sausage and grapes has become one of my favorite meals in my rotation. Or it has become a regular meal in my rotation which would make it a favorite. You don’t make something over and over again if you don’t enjoy it. If it isn’t a favorite.


Comfort food recipes

Our comfort food classics will warm you up on a winter's night. Tuck into cheesy pasta bakes, satisfying pies, hearty stews, indulgent puddings and more.

Sausage casserole with garlic toasts

Smarten up sausages and sneak in a few vital veggies too with this comforting midweek meal

Sticky pan-roasted sausages with grapes

Served with mash or polenta, these make sophisticated comfort food, and the sweet grapes with a hint of red wine vinegar really cut through the richness of the sausages


The Bitten Word

We wanted something fast, easy and fresh for dinner last week. We knew just where to turn: Bon App's "Fast, Easy, Fresh" section. It's a front-of-the-book collection of relatively quick and simple recipes, and it's always good for a little inspiration.

This Creamy Polenta with Sausages and Roasted Grapes sounded perfect -- hearty and comforting, with the roasted grapes adding a fun twist.

The biggest "innovation" here is microwaving the polenta. Bon Appétit says it "puts an end to nonstop stirring." We suppose. Honestly, we don't think polenta is all that time-consuming or labor-intensive to begin with. (It's not like we're talking about risotto.) Microwaving does cut out some of the stirring and minding of the pot, but we also felt like the finished product was a little stiffer and gummier than it would have been had we made it on the stove. So microwave at your own peril. 

We have a few other minor tweaks for this recipe:

  • A thyme sprig gets placed in the polenta before it is microwaved. We suggest fishing it out after the polenta is finished, so that your or a guest don't wind up with a mouthful of twig. 
  • While keeping grapes on the stem makes for a striking presentation on the plate, it's exceedingly difficult to eat. We recommend removing the stems for this preparation, or at least removing most of the stems. 
  • We used chicken sausages and found that when they were placed in a hot, dry pan, they had trouble browning. To fix this, we put a thin coating of olive oil in the pan and the sausages browned very nicely. 

So, yeah, we didn't fall in love with this dish. It's perfectly fine, and all the components are good. But it just didn't come together in a way that wowed us. 

The good news is that the one aspect of the dish that really attracted us -- the roasted grapes -- was a real hit. We've only really experimented with cooking grapes in a savory dish once before, in a Braised Chicken with Gewürztraminer and Grapes. But we need to do it more often. Roasted or braised grapes are a delicious pairing with savory meats like chicken, pork or even duck. 


(This photo: Bon Appétit)

4 Servings
Active time: 30 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes

Notes From Zach and Clay of TheBittenWord.com:

  • A thyme sprig gets placed in the polenta before it is microwaved. We suggest fishing it out after the polenta is finished, so that your or a guest don't get served it. 
  • Though grapes with the stem-on make a striking presentation on the plate, it makes it exceedingly difficult to eat. We recommend removing the stems for this preparation, or at least removing most of the stems. 
  • We used chicken sausages and found that when they were placed in a hot, dry pan, they had trouble browning. To fix this, we put a thin coating of olive oil in the pan and the sausages browned very nicely. 

1/2 cup medium-grind polenta (not instant)
3 large sprigs thyme, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
1 pound fresh hot or sweet Italian turkey or chicken sausages
1/3 cup low-salt chicken broth
1 pound seedless red grapes, cut into bunches with stems attached
1/4 cup chopped shallots
1/3 cup dry white wine
Flat-leaf parsley leaves

Preheat oven to 450°. Stir polenta and 2 1/2 cups water in a medium microwave-safe bowl add 1 thyme sprig and season with salt and pepper. Cover with a plate. Microwave for 4 minutes. Carefully remove plate and whisk polenta. Cover and microwave for 4 minutes longer. Repeat until polenta is soft, adding more water by 1/4-cupfuls if too thick, 10–12 minutes total, depending on strength of microwave. Stir in butter.

Season to taste with salt and pepper keep warm.

Meanwhile, heat a large cast-iron or ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausages and fry until browned, turning occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add broth, remaining 2 thyme sprigs, grapes, and shallots to skillet transfer to oven. Roast, turning grapes and sausages halfway through cooking time, until grapes begin to caramelize and sausages are cooked through and begin to burst, 12–15 minutes.

Spoon polenta into wide, shallow bowls. Arrange sausages and grapes over. Add wine to skillet stir over high heat, scraping up browned bits. Drizzle pan sauce over sausages. Sprinkle with parsley.


Super(ish) Sandwiches- Wraps with grilled tofu sausage, dijon mustard, pickled cucumber and lettuce

I have had these in my mind for ages, as I love all these ingredients. It was, well, a bit meh.

healthy rating – 6/10 (no cholesterol at least)

Husband-Gusto’s personal rating – ‘let’s not try that again’.

Random picture of boats in Cowes for the Round the Island race


Dinner 2: Crunchy Oven-Fried Fish and Toasted Orzo Pilaf

Start by making the bread crumbs for the fish. As the crumbs toast, prep the remaining ingredients for both dishes. Bread the fish, but wait to start baking it. Put the fish in the oven while the orzo is toasting. Finish the orzo as the fish cooks.

Crunchy Oven-Fried Fish will work with most types of fish, but aim for fillets that are about 1 inch thick. For a simpler breading, the parsley and shallot can be omitted. The horseradish can also be left out, or try adding Dijon mustard instead. Toasted Orzo with Peas and Parmesan uses a risotto-style cooking method to make a hearty side dish. If you don&rsquot have orzo, Israeli couscous or another tiny pasta (sometimes called soup pasta) like acini di pepe, tubettini, or stellini will also work. Cooking times will vary, so check for doneness frequently.

Printable Shopping Lists: Crunchy Oven-Fried Fish and Toasted Orzo Pilaf


Roasted Sausages and Grapes

The Set-up: Ina is making Italian dishes that take almost no time or effort.

0:55 – We’re beginning with Weeknight Bolognese, which according to Ina takes “foreeever to make” and if this recipe from another TV cooking show is anything go on I agree!

1:22 – In a turn of events that surprises no one this recipe calls for garlic, oregano, and San Marzano tomatoes.

3:03 – Ina is also adding a few tablespoons of tomato paste and I have to give a shout out to one of my favorite ingredients – such an awesome way to add more flavor without adding more liquid.

4:35 – Now that Ina has finished hating on “boring” spaghetti and has started boiling the more interesting orecchiette it’s time to wrap up the Bolognese sauce.

5:41 – Parmesan has been ground, pasta is cooked, sauce is sauced and now I’m hungry.

6:50 – I have to give Ina credit, that looks really good and didn’t take all that long either. Buon appetito indeed.

10:07 – Now we’re cooking Roasted Sausages and Grapes with Joanne Killeen, owner of Al Forno restaurant in Providence, RI.

11:23 – First step, par-boil the hot and sweet Italian sausages to remove some of the fat.

12:36 – Interesting, Joanne recommends using both red and green grapes because “We start beautiful,” even though the final result will be that both look kinda brown.

13:18 – According to Joanne this is a peasant dish from Tuscany that would have been made around harvest time. File that one away for the next trivia night!

14:09 – Ina is in charge of finishing the sauce, which seems to consist of de-glazing the pan with balsamic vinegar while Joanne does the heavy lifting by slicing focaccia.

15:54 – Serving suggestion is mashed potatoes, but I think a creamy polenta might be better or potatoes roasted with herbs… yum.

16:26 – I love dishes that combine savory or spicy with something sweet – this looks like a great fall dinner.

19:35 – We’re back and taking a field trip to Cavaniola’s to learn about parmesan cheese. Ina is showing us whole wheels of Parmigiano Reggiano and what shavings look like.

20:11 – FYI, for cheese lovers on a budget (aren’t we all?) Grana Padano is a good, less expensive option.

21:20 – I feel like this a lesson for 12-year old me who tried to make fettuccine alfredo with the pre-ground kind in the canister, aka “shaker cheese.” Spoiler alert: it did not turn out well.

22:03 – We’re learning a little about Ina’s cheese handling preferences – mainly that she buys the world’s largest wedges of Parmigiano Reggiano and two that she wouldn’t touch the pre-shredded kind with a 39.5 foot pole (who knows where it’s been?!)

23:45 – Ina offers us two parmesan-related appetizers Parmesan Shards and Parmesan Crisps. The snarky side of me has thoughts that I’m trying to restrain…

26:17 – Time for Ask Ina! Question 1: How to fix meatballs that are too squishy. (Eww.) Ina recommends a combination of fresh and dry seasoned breadcrumbs.

27:32 – Question 2: How long should it take to cook risotto? Ina says risotto should cook at a gentle simmer and take 30 – 35 minutes to reach an al dente texture.

28:12 – Question 3: How do I pick the right balsamic vinegar? Ina says that like parmesan the more aged the balsamic is, the more expensive it is. She suggests selecting a few in your budget range, tasting them all and then choosing the one you like best.

29:28 – Question 4: Why is my pasta all clumped together in a solid mass? Ina explains that the starch released from the pasta as it cooks will make it stick unless you add a little oil to the water or put the pasta directly into the sauce after it drains.

Final Thoughts:

All of the recipes Ina made were really fast – perfect for weeknight cooking!

I learned my lesson about parmesan at a young age. The raw ingredients make such a difference in the outcome.

I dare some one to serve pieces of parmesan with toothpicks in them at their next party.

Roasted Sausages and Grapes | Image: Laura Messersmith

Lessons Learned:

I love recipes that balance savory with sweet, so the Roasted Sausages and Grapes was really intriguing to me. It also looked fairly uncomplicated to make so I decided to give it a shot. The steps are very simple and requires minimal prep, so this is a great recipe if energy and/or time are short.

Remember with roasting that allowing space between the grapes and sausages will allow them to caramelize – too little space results in steam and not much texture will develop.

One Important Note: I think the sausage I bought must have been fairly lean because after par-boiling and roasting they turned out almost dry – something that has probably never been said about a sausage before.

Unless you’re sure the sausages your using are high in fat content I’d err on the side of skipping the par-boiling step since any excess fat that renders out of the sausages during the roasting process can be skimmed off or left in the pan to help flavor the grapes and create the sauce.

Roasted Sausages and Grapes | Image: Laura Messersmith

Small Kitchen Friendly?

Yes, surprisingly. I used metal roasting pan, a medium pot, tongs, a wooden spatula, and measuring cups/spoons. That’s it!

The Verdict:

I had high hopes for Roasted Sausages and Grapes after all it’s been on Al Forno’s menu for 30 years(!), but I’m sorry to say that both Mike and I were a little underwhelmed. The flavors melded well together and delivered on the salty/sweet/vinegar combination, but the dryness of the sausage was a disappointment. I think with a few adjustments - mainly skipping the par-boiling step - this could be a great dish. I could even see making it for brunch alongside grits or herbed potatoes. A lukewarm endorsement, I know but I think there’s potential!

Roasted Sausages and Grapes | Image: Laura Messersmith


Watch the video: DELICIOUS Italian Creamy Polenta Recipe (June 2022).


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