This recipe comes from one of Mario Batali’s first books, Molto Mario. The braising sauce becomes ultra think and glossy from the red wine and tomato paste mixture – no tinned tomatoes are used so there’s real concentration of flavour, especially if you take the time to really let the tomato paste caramelise. Maggie Beer, an Australian cook and author, also makes a Bolognese sauce using just tomato paste and red wine, it’s a great way to get a big flavour punch. The only other thing I recommend is that you use the best quality sausages you can, beef or pork it doesn’t really matter.
Ingredients – Serves 4
12 best quality beef or pork sausages – Italian style sausages would be best
2 large red onions, thinly sliced
3 red and 3 yellow bell peppers, seeded, cored and cut into thin strips
1 teaspoon red chili flakes – more if you like it very spicy
1 tablespoon dried oregano
180g tomato paste
11/2 cups dry red wine
1 cup beef stock
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 cup polenta (not the instant variety)
3 cups milk – I used 2%
1 cup water
1/2 cup mascarpone
In a very large frying pan heat some olive oil over medium heat. Add the sausages and cook turning them over occasionally until well browned on all sides. remove and set aside. To the same pan add the onions and a pinch of salt (add some more oil to the pan if necessary) and cook until the onions are very soft and just starting to brown. Add the peppers, chili flakes, oregano and another pinch of salt and cook for a further 15 to 20 minutes or until the peppers are soft and limp. Spoon in the tomato paste and stir into the peppers and onions. Cook until it darkens and caramelises, but be careful not to burn it. Add the red wine, lower the heat to a simmer, and cook for at additional 15 minutes. Return the sausages to the pan, add the stock and bring to a boil, then simmer for 45 minutes, adding water if necessary to keep the consistency of a ragu. Season with black pepper and salt to taste.
To make the polenta bring the milk and water up to the boil in a medium size saucepan. Add salt and rain in the polenta in a steady stream, whisking as you pour. Once all the polenta has been poured in switch to a spoon and stir the polenta until it has fully incorporated into the milk. Lower the heat to a bare simmer, put the lid on askew and continue to cook, stirring every now and then for about 30 minutes or until the polenta is very smooth and not at all granular. You may need to add more water from a recently boiled kettle during this time to keep a wet consistency. When the polenta is cooked, stir in the mascarpone, taste and add more salt if necessary. Serve the Polenta topped with the ragu.