Not your mother’s beanie-weenie: Spicy Sausage and Beans over Polenta

This is a company dish that you can prepare in less than 45 minutes. It’s a show-stopper with it’s contrasting colors and complex blend of textures and flavors.

Use your favorite sausage. Tonight I was lucky enough to have a garlic sausage ring from Romanian Kosher Sausage Company, corner of Clark and Touhy, Chicago. If you ever get a chance you should stop in there to buy deli meat that is fresh and well-seasoned, or to pick out a salami which hangs on the wall behind the butchers. This is the real deal. (Closed on Saturdays.)

I’ve  had great success with chicken-apple sausage, and for a low-fat version, turkey kielbasa.

Spicy Sausage and Beans over Polenta


Start this first, and let it cook slowly while you cook the sausage and beans.

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup polenta (also called corn grits or coarse corn meal)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Mix together all of the ingredients, cooking slowly over medium heat, stirring often. It will thicken but should be thin enough to slowly pour off the spoon. Add more water as needed. It will take about 25 minutes to cook. You’ll know it’s done when it’s not gritty to chew.

Sausage and Beans

  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 large onion, cut into slices
  • 1 lb sausage, cut diagonally into slices
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 28-oz can whole tomatoes cut into large chunks, or 4 cups fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 15-oz can pinto beans
  • 1 15-oz can black beans
  • 1 Tbs. basil
  • 1 Tbs. oregano
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne
  • 1/4 c. chopped parsley

Saute the onion and sausage in the oil until the onions begin to caramelize and the meat is browned. Add the rest of the ingredients, cover and let heat through. Add more salt, spices or cayenne to taste.

To serve, spoon the polenta into a large, deep-sided platter or pasta bowl. Ladle on the sausage and bean mixture, top with chopped parsley.

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