Balsamic Italian Sausage and Grapes over Goat Cheese Polenta is a rustic yet welcoming “small plate” that’s perfect for entertaining!
The inspiration behind this recipe:
Have you noticed many restaurants now have a “small plates” section on their menu? Small plates are slightly more substantial than an appetizer but not as heavy as an entree. For Spanish it’s tapas, Greek it’s meze and Italian, it’s cicchetti. I am totally in love with the small plate concept because it means I can enjoy two or three different things on their menu.
I’ve done numerous gatherings personally and professionally as a personal chef. I found doing individual appetizers is labor-intensive and time-consuming. When entertaining, you’re doing it because you want to enjoy the company of your family and friends, not work so hard you’re exhausted by the time they arrive. A small-plates party is the perfect casual way to entertain.
This rustic Balsamic Italian Sausage and Grapes over Goat Cheese Polenta is perfect on a small plates menu!
What is polenta?
Polenta is one of my favorite comfort foods and goat cheese polenta is my favorite way to enjoy it. It’s similar to grits in that they are both made from stone-ground cornmeal but they’re made from different types of corn. The number of times it’s milled, the fineness of the grind and the taste and texture differ. Instant polenta is easier to find, however, you’ll want to use coarse polenta here.
Coarse polenta takes a lot of time and attention to cook if you do it the traditional way on the stovetop. I prefer to cook it uncovered in the oven instead so I can do other things.
While the polenta is baking, brown the Italian sausage and grapes. Place them in the oven to finish cooking alongside the polenta. (Cooking things simultaneously at the same temperature conserves energy!)
Make a quick herb-infused balsamic-based pan sauce, slice the Italian sausage, toss with sauce, plate over the goat cheese polenta and enjoy! Balsamic Italian Sausage and Grapes over Goat Cheese Polenta.
More great recipes perfect for entertaining!
- Deviled Crab-Stuffed Artichoke Bottoms
- Shrimp Cocktail Louis
- Mini Southern Tomato Pies
- Crab Mango and Avocado Salad with Chile-Lime Dressing in Endive
- Chicken Spinach and Artichoke Puff Pastry Parcels
- Cheese and Artichoke Stuffed Tomatoes and Grilled Zucchini
- Spinach Artichoke Squares
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- Olive oil
- 1 ½ cups half-and-half
- 2 ¼ cups chicken broth
- ¾ cup polenta (coarse ground, not instant)
- salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- ½ cup (4 ounces) crumbled goat cheese
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- SAUSAGE AND GRAPES
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 pound spicy or mild Italian sausage links (pork, turkey or chicken)
- 1 pound red grapes, cut into 4 - 5 bunches with stem attached
- 2 medium shallots, minced
- ½ cup good-quality balsamic vinegar
- ¾ cup chicken broth
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary or thyme
- 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (cut into ½-inch pieces)
- salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Rosemary sprigs, for garnish
- POLENTA: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Brush the inside of an oven and microwave-safe baking dish with olive oil. Whisk together half-and-half, chicken broth, polenta, salt and black pepper to taste in the prepared baking dish. Microwave on High for 3 minutes. Stir, then transfer to the oven. Bake uncovered for 45 minutes.
- Stir in the goat cheese and butter and adjust seasoning if necessary. Keep warm.
- SAUSAGE AND GRAPES: Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausages and brown on all sides, approximately 5 minutes. Transfer to a baking dish.
- Add the grapes to the skillet, drizzle with remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and lightly brown them. Transfer to the baking dish with the sausage. Bake 20 - 25 minutes alongside the polenta or until the sausage is thoroughly cooked.
- SAUCE: Meanwhile, add the shallots to the existing fat in the skillet. Cook over medium heat for 3 - 4 minutes, stirring often, being careful not to burn the shallots.
- Add the balsamic vinegar, chicken broth and rosemary or thyme to the skillet and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 5 minutes to reduce slightly. Stir in the butter and season to taste with salt and black pepper.
- TO SERVE: Transfer sausages to a cutting board and slice on an angle into thick slices. Cut grape bunches into 8 - 10 smaller bunches. Spoon polenta into small bowls or onto small plates. Top with 2 -3 sausage slices and a small bunch of grapes. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon sauce and garnish with an herb sprig. Serve immediately.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 494Total Fat: 37gSaturated Fat: 17gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 20gCholesterol: 87mgSodium: 1041mgCarbohydrates: 22gFiber: 1gSugar: 14gProtein: 20g
The nutritional information above is computer-generated and only an estimate. Please do your own research with the products you're using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.