Sun-dried tomato and sausage polenta gratin

Last week was a pretty busy week. And the highlight of it was probably on leap-day, Wednesday February 29th. Not only was it leap-day, but it was also a February that has five Wednesdays. That doesn’t happen too often, I’m too lazy to do the math, but I know that it can only happen on leap-years where the first day in Feb is also a Wednesday. Of course, a special event like this can only be marked with a party. Food and drink.

Sun-dried tomato and sausage polenta gratin

A club I’m part of (Carolina Larrikins) hosts events on the first, third, and–if it exists–the fifth Wednesdays of the month. It was kind of a pot-luck thing for food, and a keg of good beer was provided (thanks, gang!). I made this tasty polenta gratin and helped some friends out with something a bit more important than food.

After I left work, I noticed that there was a series of text messages waiting. A couple friends were asking–no, urging–me to come to the party. My services were direly needed.

See, they wanted to get married. And they wanted me to marry them. Not everybody can just marry people. But ministers can; and I just happened to be an ordained ULC minister. So by the end of the night, not only had I officiated a wedding, but I can say that I catered it as well! Not bad for a moments notice :)

Sun-dried tomato and sausage polenta gratin

I was pleased with myself. I quickly wrote up a little speech to give, got my stuff together, finished prepping the food and got over there. The ceremony went off without an issue and the reception was wrapped up with the pre-existing party. The gratin was pretty much destroyed by the end of the night, so it was either good, or people were hungry. Probably a bit of both. Click through to see how you too can cater a wedding…

Yeah, I know calling that catering a wedding is a huge stretch, but I’ll take a win when I can get it.

5-6 turkey sausages
6-8 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1 cup coarse ground polenta
4 cups water
1 red onion, diced
4 cloves garlic
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp thyme
Salt and pepper
3 ounces Gruyere
1 tbsp olive oil

1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add about a tablespoon of olive oil then add the sausages. Cook, adjusting the heat as needed and turning the sausages so that they brown evenly, until they are fully cooked, about 10 minutes. Remove the sausages from the skillet and allow to cool. Cut them once along each axis (so, cut in along the length to make to long halves, then cut those in half).
2. In the same skillet, reduce the heat to medium (if you haven’t already) and add the onions, garlic, rosemary, and thyme. There should be enough oil/grease left, but add up to a tablespoon of oil if needed. Cook the onion until it starts to soften, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat.
3. Bring a pot of water with the 4 cups of water to a simmer with the chopped sun-dried tomato in it. Once it reaches a simmer slowly pour in the cup of polenta while whisking. It’s important to do this gradually so that the polenta doesn’t clump up. Allow it to come back to a simmer and turn the heat to low. It should be at a bare simmer. It will take a while for this to cook (about 30 mins) but you don’t need to watch it the whole time. Just give it a stir once every 5-10 minutes. After about 30 minutes, add the reserved onion and spice/herb mixture. Cook for about 10 minutes more. It should have thickened to a porridge-like consistancy.
4. Line a sheet-pan with plastic wrap and pour the polenta mixture into it. Allow it to cool (in your fridge, if possible) for at least 30-45 minutes or longer. Spread it out so that it evenly covers the bottom of the pan.
5. After it’s cool, break it into rough chunks–anywhere from 1×1 inches to 3×3 inches. It doesn’t have to be even or nice. Rough and dirty is good. As you break off chunks, toss them into a 9×13 baking dish. Tuck in about half the sausage, then cover with shredded cheese. Put the rest of the sausage over the cheese.
6. Bake at 350F for 30 minutes. To get a nice browned look on the top, turn on the broiler for another 5-10 minutes. Watch it carefully though, some broilers heat faster than others, don’t burn it!
7 (optional) Take it to a wedding that you have been asked to officiate and have a great time!

Sun-dried tomato and sausage polenta gratin

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