1 pound bulk sweet Italian sausage
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
1 large fennel bulb, cut in half lengthwise, cored, and thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves
1 quart chicken stock or broth
1 cup milk
3/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
1 cup quick-cooking polenta (or cornmeal)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus some for garnish
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the EVOO. Add the sausage, breaking it up with the back of a wooden spoon, and cook until browned, 4 to 5 minutes.
Add the red onions, fennel, garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper.
Continue to cook, stirring frequently, for about 4 minutes, or until the veggies wilt and the onions become translucent. While the veggies are cooking, start the polenta.
In a sauce pot combine 2 1/2 cups of the chicken stock and 1 cup of milk. Season the liquid with salt and pepper. Place over medium-high heat and bring up to a simmer.
Once the veggies have wilted, add the white wine and the remaining 1 1/2 cups of chicken stock to the skillet. Turn the heat to high and bring up to a simmer. Cook to reduce the liquids by half, about 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the chopped parsley.
To the simmering chicken stock and milk add the polenta and whisk constantly until the cornmeal masses together. It's so cool how fast this happens-right before your eyes!
Add the butter and grated cheese, stirring to combine. Keep in mind that polenta is very forgiving; if it becomes too thick, you can always add more warm chicken stock or milk.
Serve the polenta in a shallow bowl and top with a helping of the sausage and fennel ragout. Garnish with more grated Parmesan.
I really like this sausage and fennel ragout. It is quick and easy to make and has very nice flavors. I only changed the recipe to say dried thyme instead of fresh, and you can use cornmeal instead of polenta if that's what you have. I guess it takes a little longer (maybe 2 minutes instead of 1). And I changed the Parmigiano-Reggiano to Parmesan. This is a pretty good Valentine's dinner (especially for a Monday night).