What is Polenta?
Polenta is made from coarse stone-ground cornmeal and sometimes called “Italian grits.” Like the Southern American classic grits, polenta is a hearty porridge with a grainy texture. This delicious and straightforward dish is from Northern Italy and is very versatile. It is an excellent foundation for a casserole, fried and served sweet for breakfast or served as a porridge with beans and vegetables or meat and gravy.
Italian Recipe Exchange
This Cheesy Polenta Casserole recipe comes from our adopted Italian family in Perugia, Italy. We hosted two Italian foreign exchange students during their 4th year in high school. The first student was in the 1999 -2000 school year. Four years later, we hosted his younger brother!
It was a remarkable cultural experience, and more importantly, we gained a family in Italy. The educational exchange was very profound for the students, but our family benefited greatly. The oldest son loved grocery shopping with me, and we exchanged many recipes. Their mother was from Brescia, so I gather this recipe was from her family since polenta dishes generally come from the northern part of the country.
Cook polenta until it leaves the sides of the pan
Smooth thickened polenta into a casserole dish
Spoon browned Italian sausage over polenta
Add the tomato layer and spinkle with Parmesan cheese
Add the mozzerella cheese layer
Bake and serve
Cheesy Polenta Casserole with Spicy Italian Sausage
- Total Time: 50 minutes
- Yield: 6 1x
- Diet: Gluten Free
This delicious layered cheesy polenta casserole is comfort food at its best! The perfect combination of smooth and creamy polenta with spicy Italian sausage. Be sure to make plenty because leftovers are great. Polenta is similar to cheesy grits, a classic American dish from the South.
Polenta* see note
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon sugar, optional
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup stone-ground yellow cornmeal or corn grits
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
Sausage and Tomato
- 1 lb hot or sweet Italian sausage.
- 2 14–oz can diced tomatoes
- 1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese
- 1 teaspoon Italian herbs
- 8 ounces mozzarella cheese sliced or grated** see note
- Preheat the oven to 375º. Butter a 2.5-quart ovenproof casserole dish.
- Make Polenta – Combine the broth, butter, sugar, and salt in a heavy saucepan and heat to a simmer. – Slowly add the corn grits in a thin stream, whisking constantly. Lower the heat and continue stirring with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens and leaves the pan side, about 10 minutes. Add the Parmesan cheese and press the polenta mixture into the casserole dish.
- Make Sausage – Heat a medium-size skillet and sauté the sausage breaking up with the back of a spoon. Cook until brown, crumbly, and thoroughly cooked. Layer sausage over polenta with a slotted spoon
- Layer Tomato over the sausage, followed by seasoning and Parmesan cheese.
- Top with mozzarella cheese.
- Bake for 30 minutes.
- Place under broiler for 2 minutes, if desired, to brown cheese. Let stand for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
*Fast track this recipe by using ready-made, shelf-stable polenta. It is available in the Italian Food section.
** fresh mozzarella may also be used – sliced 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick
- Prep Time: 20
- Cook Time: 30
- Category: Pork
- Method: Oven
- Cuisine: Italian
Keywords: comfort food
2 responses to “Cheesy Polenta Casserole with Italian Sausage”
My husband even liked this and he doesn’t like much.