This baked polenta with sausage and cheese comes together with ease and can be made ahead of time with store-bought or freshly made polenta.
This rustic baked polenta with sausage and cheese is the epitome of Italian comfort food. For this hearty meal, polenta, Italian sausage, and Taleggio and Parmesan cheeses are simply layered and baked.–Angie Zoobkoff
Baked Polenta with Sausage and Cheese
- 2 cups traditional or quick-cooking polenta (or substitute a tube of store-bought cooked polenta)
- Butter for the baking dish plus more as needed
- 1 pound fresh Italian sausages sliced 1/2 inch (12 mm) thick
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium red onion chopped
- 2/3 cup canned low-sodium beef stock chicken stock, or vegetable broth
- 3 tablespoons mix of finely chopped fresh rosemary and sage
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 12 ounces Taleggio cheese chopped or grated (or substitute fontina)
- 1 1/2 cups Parmesan cheese grated
- Cook the polenta according to the package directions.
- Transfer the polenta to a wooden cutting board or baking sheet lined with parchment paper and spread it 1/2 inch thickness. Let cool until set, at least 45 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Lightly butter a 9-by-13-inch (23-by-33-cm) baking dish.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the sausages and cook until browned, 5 to 10 minutes.
- Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the stock or broth, half the chopped herbs, and salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat.
- Cut the polenta into slices about 1/2 inch (12 mm) thick. Arrange a layer of polenta in the prepared baking dish. Cover the polenta with half the sausage mixture, half the Taleggio, and half the Parmesan. Repeat with the remaining polenta, sausage mixture, Taleggio, and Parmesan. Sprinkle with the remaining herbs. If desired, top with 1 to 2 tablespoons butter cut into small pieces.
- Bake until brown and bubbling, about 40 minutes. Serve warm.
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Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This creamy, cheesy casserole makes for satisfying comfort food. We enjoyed it. The sausage added a little extra Italian punch and it smelled wonderful coming out of the oven.
My polenta sat for 45 minutes while I did other things before I cut it and it was just right. It had dried out a little and was solid, firm, and easy to cut.
The Taleggio was way too soft to grate, so I chopped it. I added about 2 tablespoons butter to the top of the casserole.
The liquid wasn’t as evenly distributed over the polenta as it could have been, but that was easily remedied by mashing things together on the plate. A solid and hearty meal though a bit time-consuming to prepare.
For me this dish turned out to be as comforting as a huge bowl of cornbread stuffing though elevated with the addition of sausage and cheese.
My baking dish was quickly overrun but I managed to fit it all in. I dotted it with about 1 tablespoon of butter. Bake time was spot on. It was beautifully bubbly and that smell filled the entire house. I could make this for Thanksgiving as a side dish no problem.
I’ve come to love polenta as an adult even though it wasn’t part of my family traditions growing up. I often will order it out and am grateful that my husband often cooks it for me for breakfast and dessert. What we hadn’t yet tried at home was a traditional version for dinner and this was a great success story, first time out, and the recipe easily scales down for two.
We used a coil of chorizo from a favorite butcher with lots of spice, Taleggio, and Parmesan cheese (though my Italian-raised friend tells me that he traditionally uses Telame so that would be a good substitution for the melty component of the cheese layer).
I used Bob’s Red Mill polenta since I was out of the fancy Italian one I love, and while it wasn’t a quick-cooking variety, it was slightly quicker. When I poured it out onto the wooden board I did so on a parchment sheet, guessing that the board was partly functioning as a heat sink, but didn’t need direct contact. Once it set up, I very carefully sliced it in half horizontally like you might a layer cake, and using an oval baking dish, fit it up with pieces where I needed to fill in, lightly pressing it together.
This was so rich and decadent even a HALF-recipe generously served 4 so we divided it over 2 days, grating a little more cheese over it when reheating. It could have served 6 people of modest appetite and great discipline, but we didn’t invite those folks!! I look forward to making this again trying another sausage. While it would be delicious with merguez, it also would pair well with a beef and chive sausage—pick a favorite and it will all work.
A vegetarian version of wild mushrooms could be very good, too, changing up the onions to shallots.
This is comfort food at its best! The combination of polenta, cheese, and sausage is wonderful.
I turned the polenta out onto a wood cutting board and shaped it like a loaf. After about an hour and a half it was cool enough to slice. The casserole fit nicely in a 13-by-9-inch pan. It makes for a beautiful presentation and wonderful dish.
I couldn’t find any Tallegio cheese in my supermarkets so I substituted fontina cheese. I used a tablespoon of butter to dot the top of casserole.
A great comfort food dish! The rosemary, sage, and red onion, combined with the cheese and sausage, really livened up the polenta. The leftovers were delicious as breakfast!
Next time I may even consider cooking the sausages intact and slicing afterward. The finished dish was a little greasy from all the cheese so I would probably hold off on the butter in the final step.
Originally published January 28, 2020
If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
What an easy, perfect-to-make-ahead recipe for a weeknight. I didn’t go through the trouble of making my own polenta so I bought one from the store which really simplified my life as all I had to do was slice it and place it in the Pyrex.
Though I used turkey sweet Italian sausage, I think there isn’t much need for the oil or perhaps just 1/2 tablespoon instead of 1. Also, I used 4 tablespoons of butter, but am wondering if I could totally forego the butter as the fat in the sausages and cheeses as well as the stock are enough to keep it all nice and juicy.
The end result was loved by all. A very filling dish which would serve up to 5. I will be redoing this one again.