This recipe definitely doesn't fit any definition of the word light, but that wasn't the point. Between the sausage and cream, it didn't matter that I was piling it on top of corn laced with extra corn. (Corn's been on my mind lately since I've started reading Michael Pollan's "The Omnivore's Dilemma." The book's first section is about how processed foods are basically built from different corn-derived ingredients.)
I like to store any leftover polenta separate from the sausage and mushroom mixture in case I feel like topping it with something different the next day. Also, this recipe might seem daunting at first because it calls for sauteeing the mushrooms and sausage while constantly stirring the polenta. With good planning and what chef's call mise en place, this is manageable, but if you wish to prepare the two parts in sequence rather than simultaneously, do the sausage and mushroom portion first and keep it warm over low heat while preparing the polenta, which will thicken as it stands.
Polenta with Creamed Sausage and Mushrooms
1/2 cup polenta
2+ cups milk (I used skim and added extra because I like my polenta loose)
1 cup corn nibblets
2 Tbsp. butter
For creamed sausage and mushrooms:
2 links sweet Italian sausage (casing removed and sausage crumbled)
4 cups trimmed and sliced mushrooms (I used shitake and oyster)
Extra Light Olive Oil for sauteeing
1/3 cup heavy cream
4 fresh sage leaves (minced)
salt and pepper
1. Bring the milk to a boil over medium heat, stirring occassionally to prevent burning. While this is coming up to temperature, gather and prep all other ingredients, because you will need to stir the polenta constantly once it is added to the milk.
2. Saute the sausage in a pan with a small amount of olive oil. When browned, add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt.
3. When the milk reaches a boil, slowly stream in the polenta while whisking constantly. Once incorporated, turn down the heat to avoid burning the milk. At first, it will seem like there is too much milk for the polenta, but after 6-8 minutes the mixture will begin to resemble hot cereal.
4. Once the mushrooms have cooked down to about a third of their original volume, add the sage. A minute later add the cream and cook down over medium-high heat to reduce.
5. When polenta is thickened but still loose, add in the loose corn pieces and butter. Continue stirring. If the mixture is too dense, add a touch more milk or any leftover cream to reach the desired consistency, which is simply a matter of preference.
6. Adjust the seasoning for both dishes and immediately serve the sausage and mushroom mixture on top of the polenta. Ganish with extra sage leaves and parmesan shavings if desired.