Polenta Pizza with Broccoli Rabe, Sausage, Mushrooms and Tomatoes

Saturday, January 2, 2010

A different kind of pizza crust made with Polenta.
There are hundreds of ways to make Polenta and it can be cooked with just about anything. Ever since I could remember about this growing up, my Grandmother would use leftovers from the meat sauce and lots of grated cheese, this medley was inspired by the tastes of those squares of Polenta and her baking this till crispy, so why not a pizza? Broccoli Rabe, Sausage and Mushrooms. Polenta can be baked, boiled fried, or used as a breading substitute, it's so versatile. If you like Polenta, you are in for a real treat!

For Italians, it always seems both pasta and pizza are the cornerstones of what makes Italian food "Italian". However, there is another staple food of Northern Italy that does not get the same recognition, but still is the third runner up of the Italian food trinity, a very versatile and satisfying food group, Polenta. Polenta was the staple food ( Corn meal) of the poor, in northern Italy, especially those that lived out in the country. Sometimes it was eaten three times a day.Many recipes were handed down through generations of Italian families and passed on to friends and neighbors. We loved it in our house as children and now this is a delicacy along with many other once called depression foods. In this way, Polenta is truly an Italian national dish, and may have a history much more ancient than either pizza or pasta. Some have called Polenta "Italian grits" and there are similarities to the hominy grits that is so popular here in the South.

Polenta Pizza

Layers of meat, greens, sliced tomato and mozzarella top this Polenta crust and ready to go back into the oven.

This has been in the refrigerator and will now go into the oven to precook for about 25 to 35 minutes till edges are crispy.

Polenta all cooked ready to go onto a greased olive oiled pan for further preparation.

Broccoli Rabe boiling in salt water for around an hour till tender.

Mushrooms, sausage and garlic sauteed in olive oil and Chablis.

Some of the wonderful ingredients for our Polenta crusted pizza.

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, more for oiling pan
½ cup whole milk
2½ cups water
1 cup coarse cornmeal
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups ground loose Italian sausage cooked or links out the casings
1/4 cup white wine recommended Chablis
1 cup mushrooms sliced
2 cups broccoli rabe boiled cleaned or baby spinach if desired substitute however just saute with mushrooms and sausage step
1 or 2 tomatoes, sliced
2 cloves of minced garlic
1/2 cup of your favorite tomato sauce
1 cup mozzarella cheese
salt pepper cayenne pepper
Prepare pan by Brushing a layer of olive oil on a deep dish pizza pan or 12x8 inch pan. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine milk, water and a 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Bring just about to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and add cornmeal in a steady stream, whisk quickly and the whole time to prevent lumps from forming. Turn heat to low and simmer, whisking frequently, until thick. If mixture becomes too thick, whisk some more bit water in to this, you will want a consistency of thick oatmeal.
Stir 1 tablespoon oil into cooked cornmeal (Polenta). Spread out quickly onto prepared pan, so Polenta does not stiffen; spread it evenly to a thickness of about ½ inch all over. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, cover baking sheet with plastic wrap and put it in refrigerator until it is firm, an hour or more, it doesn't matter if you leave this longer even overnight.
Heat oven to 450 degrees F. Put Polenta in oven and bake for 25 to 35 minutes, or until it crisps on edges. While that's cooking, start the toppings. Put two tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat, add the sliced mushrooms cut up and sausage loose and casing removed together, add 1/4 cup white Chablis and spinach if using, until most of the moisture is gone, about 10 minutes. Add boiled broccoli rabe after the sausage is cooked a dash of cayenne pepper stir till heated as this is already cooked.
Take Polenta out of oven, sprinkle with mozzarella cheese, then spread mixture of meat over the top of Polenta evenly add cheese then sliced tomatoes and dab sauce around the pizza. Put pizza back in oven, adding more mozzarella cheese to the top. Bake until cheese is thoroughly melted. Cut into slices and serve hot or at room temperature. Top with grated Romano and Parmesan blended cheese if desired.