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Italian Sausage and Bean Stew with Polenta

Introduction & method

This hearty bean and Italian sausage stew is served with polenta which is very popular in northern Italy.

Italian Sausage and Bean Stew with Polenta Recipe

Prep the beans

If you are using dried beans you'll need to soak them in water for at least four hours. And if you're in a hurry you can pre-cook them in a pressure cooker for 9 minutes.

Make Italian sausage

If you can buy Italian suasage (flavoured with fennel and garlic), just remove the skins and cut the filling into chunks. If you can't find this type of sausage it's easy to make your own. First of all, make up the seasoning mix: lighly crush the fennel seeds, peel and mince the garlic. Mix these together in a screw-top jar with the other seasoning ingredients. This quantity of seasoning is enough for 1½ kilos (3.3 pounds) - use proportionately less if you have less meat. Using your hands, mix the seasoning thoroughly into the meat - wearing latex gloves would be a good idea. Roll out the sausagemeat into a slab about 2 cm (almost an inch) thick, then cut it into 2 cm cubes.

Make the stew

Peel and dice the onion. Dice the carrot and slice the celery. Heat some oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Gently cook the onion for about give minutes then turn the heat up a little and cook the sausagemeat chunks for 5-10 minutes turning frequently to get them browned all over. Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato passata, wine or chicken stock, carrots, celery, drained beans, bay leaves and oregano. Cook for 10 minutes or so then taste it and add salt and black pepper to taste. Stir well, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes or so. If you didn't pre-cook your beans, boil them rapidly for ten minutes to get rid of any toxins that may be present then add them to the stew and cook for 1-1½ hours until the beans are tender.

Make the polenta

Follow the instructions on the pack, but basically it's place 400 ml (1¾ US cup of water and 1 tsp olive loin into a saucepan. Bring it to the boil, add 100 grams (3½ ounces) powdered polenta, stir continuously for 5 minutes until it's thick and gloopy. Polenta is pretty bland so you might want to add salt or maybe some grated cheese. You can eat it at this point but you might want to try letting it cool down on a board for 15 minutes or more, then slicing it into slabs and frying it for a few minutes each side until the edges are a bit browned.


Ingredients & Info

 100 grams dried cannellini beans
 300 grams Italian sausage
 1 carrot
 1 medium onion
 1 stick celery
 400 grams can chopped tomatoes
 4 tbsp tomato passata
 250 ml white wine or chicken stock
 2 bay leaves
 1 tsp dried oregano
 300 grams pork mince or pork shoulder if mincing yourself
 1 tsp Italian sausage seasoning
 4 cloves garlic, minced
 2 tsp fennel seeds, lightly crushed
 3 tsp salt
 1 tsp ground black pepper
 2 tsp paprika
 1 tsp red chilli flakes
 1 tsp ground coriander
 100 grams powdered polenta
 400 ml water
  salt or grated cheese to taste

Water for soaking and cooking beans, olive oil for sautéeing

US Customary/Imperial

Serves 4 -6
Prep time: 15 minutes.
Soaking time: 4 hours.
Cooking time: 2 hours.
Total time: 6 hours 15 minutes.