Sausage, fennel seed and mushroom ragù with Parmesan polenta recipe

By Debbie Major

  1. Serves 6-8
  2. Takes 15 minutes to make, 1 hour to cook
  3. Rating

Heartwarming comfort food for cold winter days from Debbie Major

tried and tested
Sausage, fennel seed and mushroom ragù with Parmesan polenta


  1. 50g dried porcini mushrooms
  2. 6 tbsp olive oil
  3. 800g meaty pork sausages, skinned and broken into small chunky pieces
  4. 1 medium onion, chopped
  5. 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  6. 1 large rosemary sprig, leaves picked and finely chopped
  7. 2 tsp fennel seeds, lightly crushed
  8. ½ tsp chilli flakes
  9. 150ml dry white wine
  10. 2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
  11. 3 fresh bay leaves
  12. 450g mushrooms, cleaned if necessary, then thickly sliced
  13. A little fresh flatleaf parsley, chopped, to serve
  14. for the parmesan polenta
  15. 250g quick-cook polenta
  16. 1½ tsp salt
  17. 75g butter
  18. 150g Parmesan, finely grated


  1. 1. Cover the dried porcini with 200ml freshly boiled water, then leave to soak for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a large, non-stick frying pan. Add half the sausage pieces and fry briskly, stirring occasionally, until golden brown all over. Lift onto a plate with a slotted spoon and repeat with the remainder.
  2. 2. Heat another 2 tbsp olive oil in a large pan, add the chopped onion, cover and fry gently for 10 minutes, uncovering and stirring occasionally until soft and lightly golden.
  3. 3. Drain the soaked porcini, reserving the liquid, and squeeze out as much water as you can from the mushrooms. Uncover the pan, add the soaked mushrooms, garlic, rosemary, fennel seeds and chilli, then fry for 1-2 minutes. Add the wine and simmer until it has almost all evaporated. Add the browned sausage pieces to the pan with the tomatoes, bay leaves and all but the last teaspoon or two of the mushroom soaking liquid (in case there’s grit in it). Simmer gently for 20 minutes, stirring every now and then.
  4. 4. Meanwhile, for the polenta, bring 1.8 litres water to the boil in ?a separate, large saucepan. Slowly pour in the polenta, stirring all the time. Add the salt, then simmer for 8 minutes, stirring frequently to remove any lumps.
  5. 5. When the ragù has reduced and thickened, heat the remaining olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the fresh mushrooms and some seasoning, then fry over a high ?heat for 3 minutes, turning the mushroom slices half way through, until lightly golden. Stir them into the ragù, cover and leave to simmer for another 5 minutes. Season.
  6. 6. Stir the butter into the cooked polenta along with the Parmesan, then season to taste.
  7. 7. To serve, spoon the polenta into warmed deep bowls, then top with the ragù and a sprinkle of parsley.

Nutritional info

Per serving (based on 8): 633kcals, 42.3g fat (16.7g saturated), 27.1g protein, 31.5g carbs (5.4g sugars), 2.5g salt, 4.1g fibre

Chef's tip

To freeze, omit step 4. At the end of step 5, cool the ragù, pour into a sealable container, then freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge, then heat in a pan until piping hot. Make the polenta as in step 4. Continue from step 6.

Wine Recommendation

A soft, easy red is best here – go Italian to match the flavours. Young and simple Valpolicella shows off the ragù.

More inspiration from Debbie Major

Broad bean recipes
Game recipes
How to keep picked herbs fresh
Christmas baking
Chard recipes


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