I enjoy buying from a farmers’ market. The market I frequent is open from Thursday to Sunday. It’s a real treat for me as some markets are only open on Saturdays and Sundays. One of the vendors I like to buy from is Flat Cap Butchers. Their story resonates with me. Covid-19 changed the way many entrepreneurs looked at their business. And, Flat Cap was no different. They wanted to work with regenerative farms in the Calgary area by educating consumers on where their food comes from, to understand the environmental impact and problems of the meat industry.
Flat Cap are whole animal butchers thereby giving consumers 35 different cuts of beef in their shop. With this range of products, where to begin? Try their in-house sausages or hamburger patties. For me, if these two items make me come back for more, then I know the other items on offer are going to be just as delicious. I used their Italian sausage in this dish. Their sausages elevated the ragù sauce and were so delicious atop the creamy polenta. I am a big fan of polenta. It is so versatile. Made with coarse stone-ground cornmeal, polenta is often referred to as “Italian grits.” Like grits, polenta is a hearty porridge with a grainy texture. It can be ground coarse, medium or fine.
for the ragù
1 lb Italian sausages (casings removed)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
28 oz can Italian plum tomatoes
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
for the creamy polenta
1 cup cornmeal (use fine for a silkier texture)
3 cups chicken stock or water
1/4 cup cream
1/2 cup Parmesan, Asiago or aged cheddar
2 tablespoons butter
Use the tip of a sharp knife and run down the sausage. Peel back the casing and remove the meat. Discard the casing. Repeat process. Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a large, high-sided frying pan. Crumble sausage into the pan, breaking it into small pieces with a wooden spoon. Cook for 5 minutes or until meat is no longer pink. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally until translucent. Add garlic and cook until fragrant. Roughly chop the tomatoes (I use scissors and cut the tomatoes over the pan) and add to the meat. Bring to a bubble then reduce heat to simmer. Cover and simmer for roughly 20 minutes. Add balsamic. Stir and do a taste test. Add sea salt and pepper to taste. Keep the sauce warm.
To make the polenta, bring the stock to a boil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat to low. Gradually add the polenta in a thin stream, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until incorporated. Cook, stirring, until the mixture thickens and the polenta is soft. If polenta bubbles too much, reduce heat. The polenta is ready when it comes together like mashed potatoes. Remove from heat, and add the cream, cheese, and butter. Stir until combined and season with salt and pepper.
Serve the creamy polenta in bowls and top with the ragù. Grate Parmesan cheese over the top and add chopped basil.
the culinary chase’s note:
If the polenta is too thick, add more cream. Enjoy!