Baked Polenta with Smokey Maltese Sausage Ragus




Ingredients for the polenta:

  • 330ml milk
  • ½ tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (Borges)
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 100g instant polenta (Lamb brand)
  • 50g cheeselet, grated (Hanini)
  • Sea salt and black pepper

Ingredients for the ragu:

  • 30ml olive oil (Borges)
  • 1 smoked Maltese sausages
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • Pinch of chilli flakes
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 400g canned tomato sauce (Mayor)
  • 1 teaspoons honey
  • 100g cheeselets or mozzarella, thinly sliced (Hanini)

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Prepare a piece of baking paper (approx. 40cm x 30cm) and lay it on top of a work surface. In a medium-sized saucepan, add the milk, butter, olive oil, garlic, salt, and, pepper. Bring this liquid to a gentle simmer over medium heat, making sure you stir continuously. Reduce the heat to low and add the polenta, whisking vigorously. Keep whisking for 2-3 minutes until there are no visible lumps and when the polenta starts pulling away from the sides of the pan. Add the grated cheeselet and mix well for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat. Transfer the polenta mixture on the prepared piece of baking paper and form the mixture into a cylindrical shape using your hands. Roll and form the cylindrical shape with the use of the baking paper, tightening it with your hands as you go along (resembling the shape of a Christmas log). Twist the edges well and transfer it onto a baking tray. Refrigerate for an hour or more. 

Prepare the sauce. In an oven-proof pan (about 26cm wide), add the olive oil and heat over medium-heat. Add the smoked Maltese sausage, onions, and red bell pepper and cook for 6-8 minutes or until soft and translucent. Stir in the garlic, oregano, thyme, chilli flakes, some salt, and pepper, and cook for another minute. Then add the canned tomato sauce and honey and bring everything to a gentle simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and leave it to bubble for about 15 minutes. Set aside until required. Preheat the oven to 230°C/ Gas Mark 8/ 210°C fan oven. Take out the chilled polenta roll from the refrigerator and unwrap it on a chopping board. Lightly trim the edges and then cut the polenta roll into slices (not too thick neither too thin). Top the smoked Maltese sausage sauce with the sliced cheeselets or mozzarella. Add the polenta slices on top of the cheese, forming a fan shape as you go along (as seen in the photograph). Drizzle the polenta with some olive oil and bake for 35 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling. Switch off the oven and leave the baked polenta inside for another 10 minutes. When it is ready to serve, scatter some chopped parsley and another helping of grated cheese.

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