Polenta with Meat Sauce
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This skillet supper is a weeknight alternative to lasagna.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 pound cremini mushrooms, chopped
- 1/2 pound 80% lean ground beef
- 2 links (1/2 pound) Italian sweet sausage with fennel, removed from casing
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 2 to 3 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 7 to 8 sage leaves, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1/2 cup dry white or red wine
- 1 quart chicken stock, divided
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup polenta (not instant)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon Acacia honey
- 3/4 cup grated Pecorino, divided
- 3/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, divided
- Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
- 1 1/2 cups fresh sheep’s or cow’s milk ricotta
Preheat oven to 425°F.
Heat olive oil in a large, 12- to 14-inch skillet. Add mushrooms and brown; add beef and sausage, and brown and crumble. Add onions, garlic and sage to meat and mushrooms, and stir 2-3 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, cook 1 minute more; add wine to deglaze the pan. Add 1 cup stock, reduce heat to a low simmer and cook a few minutes to thicken and combine flavors. Transfer sauce to a bowl.
Rinse skillet and return it to heat. Add remaining 3 cups stock and 1 cup milk, and bring to a simmer. Lower heat to medium-low and whisk in polenta. Stir 15-18 minutes to thicken then season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Turn off heat and add in butter, honey and half the grated cheeses. Smooth polenta and make a well in the center, about an inch from the edge of pan. Fill trough with meat sauce and top with dollops of ricotta. Sprinkle remaining grated cheeses over the top, bake a few minutes to brown then serve from skillet at the table.