Butternut Squash Polenta with Sausage and Onion

Didn’t I once say that I had never made polenta before? Well that has all changed. I had no idea how easy it is to make! And if polenta is easy that means grits are easy, which is great because I LOVE cheesy grits with bacon. But, I digress…. This recipe from The New York Times‘ Melissa Clark is very delicious and perfect for fall. Especially if you are looking for another way to prepare butternut squash beside roasting it.

Ingredients

It is a funny recipe though. Once you start cooking it doesn’t take too long to make and it is pretty easy, but the prep feels like a lot. Mostly it is the butternut squash that you have to peel, halve, de-seed and then grate. It really isn’t that much work, but on a weeknight it feels burdensome. That said, once the squash is ready the recipe is pretty straight forward.

Butternut Squash Polenta w Sausage

1 ½ ts. kosher salt, more as needed
1 bay leaf
1 cup fine polenta (not quick cooking)
5 ounces seeded and peeled butternut squash, coarsely grated (1 cup)
3 TB. unsalted butter
Black pepper, as needed
1 TB. extra-virgin olive oil, more as needed
1 ½ lb. sweet or hot Italian pork sausage, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds (or loose)
2 ts. minced rosemary
1 ts. fennel seeds (optional)
2 small onions, peeled, halved, and sliced into 1/4-inch half moons

In a large pot over medium-high heat, combine 4 1/2 cups water, the salt and the bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Slowly whisk in polenta. Stir in squash. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring frequently, until polenta and squash are very tender, 20 to 30 minutes. If the mixture gets too thick while cooking, add a little more water to the pot. Stir in butter and black pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.

While polenta cooks, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage, rosemary and fennel seeds if using. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is golden and cooked through, 7 to 10 minutes. (Do this in batches if necessary, adding oil if the pan looks dry.) Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate.

Add more oil to the skillet if it looks dry, then add onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are tender and golden, 10 to 15 minutes. Return sausage to pan and stir to heat through. Spoon polenta into bowls and top with sausage and onion.