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Sausage and mushroom pasticciata

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.

By Emma Knowles
  • Serves 6 - 8
  • 45 mins preparation
  • 2 hrs 30 mins cooking
Sausage and mushroom pasticciata
Sausage and mushroom pasticciata

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 richness.

Ingredients

  • 375 ml pouring cream (1½ cups)
  • 200 gm finely grated parmesan
  • 375 gm buffalo mozzarella (3 small balls), sliced
Sausage and mushroom ragù
  • 40 gm dried mushrooms, such as porcini
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 750 gm pork and fennel sausages, skins removed
  • 200 ml red wine
  • 800 gm canned chopped tomatoes or tomato polpa
  • 3 thyme sprigs, plus extra to serve
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar, or to taste
Parmesan polenta
  • 250 gm coarse polenta
  • 50 gm finely grated parmesan
  • 50 gm butter, diced

Method

Main
  • 1
    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.
  • 2
    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).
  • 3
    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.
  • 4
    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.

Notes

Drink Suggestion: Full-bodied southern Italian red, such as primitivo. Drink suggestion by Max Allen