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Small dumplings made of a sort of thick maize flour porridge: the porridge with sausages

(Gnocchi di polenta gialla: "Pulenda co' le sarsicce")

  • A) The porridge:
    1/2 kg of maize flour (durum wheat) for 2 litres of water and cooking salt
  • B) The sauce:
    2 pork sausages, already peeled
    1/2 onion
    one rib of celery
    one small carrot
    half leek
    some parsley, all of them finely chopped
    100 grams of boletus mushrooms (you can use only the stalks)
    tomato purée
    3 spoons of oil
    salt and pepper
    grated Parmesan cheese
The two elements of this recipe should be prepared at the same time, because they have the same cooking time. It is not difficult to take care of them at the same time. If you want to prepare them separately you have to cook the sauce first and then the porridge.
The porridge. Put the requested amount of water in a pot, salt it and let it boil, then drop the maize flour by taking care not to form any lumps; turn this stuff continously with a wooden ladle over a low heat and without lid. Cook it very slowly and turn it very often as to avoid the forming of the crust and also because the porridge could have a burn taste; in any case you need 45 minutes of cooking.
The sauce. At the same time, as previously said, take a small saucepan, peel and melt the sausages in the oil, let them brown for about 2-3 minutes at a medium-high heat, then add the chopped vegetables, turn all this stuff and mix it very well (while turning the sauce you can leave the porridge for few seconds without turning it) and let it brown for 20 minutes; during this time you have to take care that the sauce would not attach on the bottom of the saucepan. Then melt a spoon of tomato purée in 1/4 of very hot water and pour it in the boiling sauce. Turn it very quickly, let it cook for 10 minutes more, then add the boletus mushrooms, which have been previously cut into small pieces and then, after having turned and mixed very well, lower the heat to its minimum, cover the saucepan and dedicate your attention to the porridge. From now on you do not have to leave the porridge, because in the last 10 cooking minutes it becomes very thick and it needs to be continously and energically turned. After this time switch off the heat and dedicate your attention to the sauce, because it needs to be tasted in order to be salted, then, with a spoon, directly from the pot, form a first layer of porridge in each soup plate and add abundant sauce and Parmisan cheese, then form another layer with porridge, sauce and Parmisan cheese and, if it is possible, a third layer with the same elements. It is possible to have some remaining sauce, that you can use to season some pasta the day after.
The maize flour porridge has fallen into disuse, because its preparation requires hard work: and this is a real pity. Once a year, 45 minutes of cooking with two people, who can alternate themselves to turn it, does not represent a prohibitive time, even if the effort is quite hard. We have indicated durum wheat flour because it is much easier to work, without making any lumps, which are difficult to eliminate. If you feel quite confident, you can use half durum wheat flour and half grinded flour, which will give a better result. We have indicated this type of sauce made with sausages and mushrooms because it is easy and quick to prepare; because it allows the re-use of a remainder of boletus mushrooms; because it has the same cooking time of porridge, so that it does not require a double effort; because, finally, it is the right season for a sausages sauce and, we would like to add, because this sauce is very appropriate with the porridge. In any case some other types of sauce can be suitable to "grease" this porridge.

A Giuseppe Alessi recipe
Translated by Gianna Toni

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