Pasticcio, or pasticciata, means mess in Italian, and this
glorious mess of polenta, mozzarella, and a sausage and mushroom
ragù is comfort food at its best. A salad will balance out the
375 ml (1½ cups)pouring cream200 gmfinely grated parmesan375 gmbuffalo mozzarella (3 small balls), slicedSausage and mushroom ragù40 gmdried mushrooms, such as porcini2 tbspolive oil1onion, finely chopped2garlic cloves, finely chopped750 gmpork and fennel sausages, skins removed200 mlred wine800 gmcanned chopped tomatoes or tomato polpa3thyme sprigs, plus extra to serve1 tbspred wine vinegar, or to tasteParmesan polenta250 gmcoarse polenta50 gmfinely grated parmesan50 gmbutter, diced
For sausage and mushroom ragù, place
mushrooms in a bowl with 375ml hot water and
leave to soak. Heat oil in a large saucepan over
medium-high heat, add onion and garlic and sauté
until softened and translucent (4-5 minutes).
Add sausage, and cook, breaking up into small
pieces with a wooden spoon, until evenly
browned (2-4 minutes). Deglaze pan with wine
and simmer until reduced by half (2-3 minutes).
Add tomato, thyme sprigs and mushrooms with
their soaking liquid, season to taste and simmer,
stirring occasionally, until thick and well flavoured
(50 minutes to 1 hour). Discard thyme, stir in
vinegar and check seasoning.
Meanwhile, for parmesan polenta, butter a
24cm x 33cm slice pan and line it with baking
paper. Bring 1.75 litres well-salted water to the
boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat and
gradually add polenta, whisking continuously
to combine. Reduce heat to as low as it can go
and simmer, whisking occasionally, then more
frequently as the mixture thickens, and cook
until the polenta no longer feels grainy on your
tongue (30-35 minutes). Whisk in parmesan and
butter until melted and combined, then pour into
prepared tray, smooth top with a wet palette knife
and refrigerate until chilled and firm (1 hour).
Meanwhile, simmer cream in a saucepan until
reduced by half (3-4 minutes), then stir in 120gm
of the parmesan, season to taste and set aside.
Preheat oven to 180C. Cut out 6.5cm-diameter
rounds from the polenta with a biscuit cutter and
place a layer in the base of a lightly oiled 3.5-litre
baking dish (roughly 23cm square), filling in any
gaps with the polenta offcuts. Spoon ragù over,
drizzle with half the parmesan cream and scatter
with half the parmesan. Season, then top with
another layer of polenta rounds and parmesan
cream, layer mozzarella on top and scatter with
remaining parmesan. Bake until golden brown
and bubbling (1-1¼ hours). Stand for 15 minutes,
scatter with extra thyme and serve.