- 2 medium-size locally grown apples (5 to 6 ounces each), such as Cortland, Honeycrisp, Rhode Island Greening or Mutsu, washed, cored and quartered*
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- Kosher or sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 4 sweet Italian pork sausage links (3 to 4 ounces each)
- 2 cups local apple cider
- 1 tablespoon local maple syrup
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 1 cup coarse cornmeal (polenta or grits)
- 1 tablespoon salted butter
- ¼ cup freshly grated Pecorino-Romano cheese
- 1 medium shallot, trimmed, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 pound winter greens (Lacinato kale, collard greens or Swiss chard) washed, stems and tough middle ribs removed, coarsely chopped into 2-inch pieces
About this recipe
*Cooking Fresh on a Budget*
For the budget-conscious cook’s toolbox, three main components of this season’s recipe—roasting, reduction sauce and polenta— offer multiple adaptations for the winter kitchen. Roasting is truly one of the most versatile cooking methods available to us, simple to execute and invaluable in imparting flavor.
- Perfect for winter savory preparations including meat, poultry and vegetables.
- Roast fruits like apples, pears (halves or quarters) and grapes (ideally seedless) and serve alongside chicken, pork or vegetable and grain main dishes; on a cheese platter; or atop oatmeal or yogurt for breakfast. Reduction sauces are easy and can really liven up your dinner. We often think of wine-based reduction sauces but juices work equally well.
- Try 2 cups orange juice, 1 tablespoon honey and a pinch of red pepper flakes and reduce by half over high heat. Serve with carrots, roasted cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, chicken, shrimp or pork.
- Apple cider reduction (see recipe) is perfect for savory dishes such as pork tenderloin or chops or roasted chicken. It’s yummy on pancakes, French toast and vanilla ice cream too. Cornmeal polenta can be served for breakfast, lunch and dinner—it’s inexpensive and serves as a perfect backdrop for many flavor profiles. It’s a wonder why Americans don’t eat more of it.
- Polenta can be cooked simply in salted water or in milk, meat, poultry or vegetable stock, which impart more flavor.
- Top with tomato sauce, Bolognese, mushroom-herb sauce, roasted vegetables or fruits. Try it alongside eggs for a hearty breakfast.
- Stir in goat cheese and chopped sundried tomatoes, crumbled blue cheese and caramelized onions, or bacon and cheddar.
Delicious roasts are invaluable for imparting flavor, warming the house and luring us to the dinner table with their aromas. This one-dish meal will serve you well on a cold winter night.
Estimated cost for 4 servings: $19.28; $4.82 per serving for 4.
Preheat oven to 375°.
In a large mixing bowl, toss apple quarters with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Place the apple quarters and sausage links in a medium roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet in a single layer. Roast until the apples are soft and the sausage is lightly browned and cooked through, 35 to 40 minutes, turning the apples and sausage over midway through the roasting time to ensure even browning.
While the sausage roasts, combine the apple cider and maple syrup in a medium nonreactive saucepan. Add ¼ teaspoon salt and season with freshly ground black pepper. Bring the cider to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer gently until liquid is reduced by half, 30 to 35 minutes. The sauce will look slightly cloudy when done; this does not affect the flavor. While the apple cider reduces, prepare the polenta. In a large saucepan, bring chicken stock to a boil. In a steady stream, pour the cornmeal into the stock, whisking continuously to avoid clumping.
Reduce heat to medium-low and stir the polenta frequently until the liquid has been absorbed, approximately 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat; stir in the butter and grated cheese. Season with salt and pepper.
While cooking the polenta, also prepare the greens. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil to a medium sauté pan, add shallot and sauté until translucent, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the greens and sauté until wilted. Season with salt and pepper. Divide polenta among 4 warm dinner plates. Place greens, 2 apple quarters and 1 sausage on each plate and drizzle with apple cider reduction. Serves 4 as a main course.
* Note: The more tart varieties of apple, such as Rhode Island Greening and Mutsu, mellow and become slightly sweeter when roasted or baked. If you prefer apples more sweet than tart, use Cortland, Fuji or Honeycrisp.