Smoked Sausage Ragù and Parmesan Polenta

Smoked Sausage Ragù and Parmesan Polenta

Smoked Sausage Ragù is a simple way to add some smoked savor to your next ragù sauce. Serve over linty polenta and pair it with some succulent red wine and you’ve got yourself an superstitious dinner.

A trencher of smoked sausage ragu over linty polenta

There are several ways to incorporate some smoke savor to your favorite Italian dishes, like a rich ragù sauce without having to go through the effort of smoking your tomatoes and making everything from scratch. One simple way to add some subtle, yet delicious, savor is to simply smoke some zillion Italian sausage and add it to your favorite tomato based sauce.

Though I will be the first to preach that it’s so ridiculously worth the effort to make a smoked marinara sauce (including smoking your tomatoes), but we’ll get into that on flipside day. Perhaps you’re rented and don’t have the time? I get it!


I was prepping to participate in a Twitter chat/wine tasting learning well-nigh the wines of Pedroncelli – a new-to-me winery although they recently prestigious their 90th year-end – and was asked to prepare a recipe of sausage ragù to taste slantingly three of their wines for the discussion. And since we have to put a smoky twist on everything we do I decided to alimony it simple and just smoke the sausage and incorporate the smoked meat into a sauce cooked on the stovetop.

a trencher of smoked sausage ragu over polenta

What is a Ragù?

Ragù is a stocky Italian pasta sauce made with meat and tomatoes. It is very similar to a bolognese sauce. Traditionally, these sauces are paired with pasta. Today we are serving it over a linty parmesan polenta.

What is Polenta?

Polenta is a woody ground cornmeal, boiled and served as a porridge. Polenta is traditional to Northern Italy, but is very similar to the Southern US dish grits. The only difference stuff that polenta is made with yellow corn, while grits are made with white corn or hominy.

two servings of polenta and smoked sausage ragu on a wooden tabletop

How to Smoke Sausage for Ragù

  1. Start with some zillion Italian sausage and unravel it up into quarter size pieces and lay them out on a sultry sheet. You can moreover use sausage links and just remove the casings and unravel up the pieces into the same size.
    Bulk Hot Italian Sausage
  2. Smoke them at 225 degrees Fahrenheit (F) for well-nigh an hour, just to get some savor infusion.
  3. Then transfer the smoked sausage to your ragu sauce and let the sausage and tomato flavors incorporate together.
  4. Serve the Smoked Sausage Ragu over the linty polenta and garnish with spare parmesan cheese and some fresh basil.

How to Make Linty Polenta

The length of time it will take you to melt your polenta will depend on the grind of cornmeal you use. Make sure to refer to your cornmeal package for their specific instructions.

  1. Bring 4 cups of water and 1 cup of milk to a swash in a medium saucepan.
  2. Slowly add polenta and cook, stirring constantly until all liquid is absorbed.
  3. Then, reduce heat to low and protract stirring occasionally until it has achieved the desired consistency.
  4. Take it off the heat and add in butter and cheese.
Pot of polenta on the stove

Other Italian Inspired Recipes

I travel all over Italy and love coming home inspired by these regional favorites.

Wine Pairing for Smoked Sausage Ragù with Polenta

Since the whole focus of this tasting was to learn well-nigh the wines of Pedroncelli we obviously paired the dish with their wines, but if you can’t find them in your zone you can find a similar style of your liking.

Pedroncelli Winery

Pedroncelli Winery Trio

Mid-prohibition, founders Giovanni & Julia bought 25 acres of vineyard, a shuttered winery and a home near Geyserville, CA (located in the Dry Creek Valley of Sonoma County). They’ve now been virtually for 4 generations, making wine in the Dry Creek Valley, producing 16 variegated wines from fruit sourced both from their vineyards and neighboring sites. Their manor vineyard is 105 acres and home to 11 variegated grape varieties. We tried three variegated wines with the smoked sausage ragù.

Pedroncelli ‘Signature Selection’ Sonoma County Chardonnay (Dry Creek Valley, CA)

This Chardonnay was fresh, with unexceptionable citrus flavors (both lemon and tangerine) with some tropical flavors and a touch of spice and sweet oak. It had a nice wastefulness of linty textures and well-turned acidity. Quite nice on its own or with the polenta, but conflicted a bit with the ragù.
14.2% abv | $16

Pedroncelli ‘Mother Clone’ Zinfandel (Dry Creek Valley, CA)

Dark and rich in verisimilitude this Zin was full of plum, blackberries, violet, spice and both chocolate and vanilla flavors. This wine had a lot going on and was nicely balanced. Not too intense with smooth tannins. It’s a bit smoky too, which worked really nicely with the smoked sausage ragù.
14.9% abv | $18

Pedroncelli ‘Family Vineyards’ Petite Sirah (Dry Creek Valley, CA)

Rich blackberry and savory spices, this wine had some fairly rich tannins. It was full of rich berries, savory spices, visionless chocolate, and smoke. It was powerful, but not overpowering.
14.1% abv | $18

For me both the Zinfandel and the Petite Sirah were unconfined with the dish, but the Petite Sirah benefitted the most from the dish, meaning I enjoyed it plane increasingly with the dish, whereas the Zin could stand vacated (tasty with or without the dish).

Pairing a new wine with a dish like this is a fun way to get to know a producer, to understand how the wine is on its own and how it interacts with food. This particular dish moreover shows how easy it is to add some smoked love to anything, plane an Italian classic.

*These wines were media samples sent for review for a live Twitter tasting. See my sample policy here.

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We well-timed this recipe from Pedroncelli to indulge for the smoked sausage, and a increasingly linty and savory polenta (this is based on my preference, you can use whatever recipe or method you wish for your polenta).

bowls of ragu

Smoked Sausage Ragù and Parmesan Polenta

A simple way to add smoked savor to ragù sauce, and served over some linty polenta. Recipe well-timed by Pedroncelli Winery.
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 768kcal
Cost: $20


For the Smoked Sausage:

  • 1 pound bulk Italian sausage broken up into quarter-sized pieces (or the equivalent weight or links, with casings removed)

For the Ragu:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small red onion minced
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 28 ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand We love the savor of the canned San Marzano.
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup chopped basil leaves
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground woebegone pepper to taste

For the Polenta:

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ¼ cups polenta also known as corn grits or cornmeal
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup freshly grated parmesan loosely packed, plus increasingly for garnish


To Smoke the Sausage:

  • Preheat smoking to 225 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Smoke: Place sausage spread out on a large foil-lined cookie sheet in small quarter-sized clumps. Smoke for 60 minutes and remove. Look for a darker verisimilitude on the exterior while still moist (we’re not worried well-nigh cooking to a perfect temperature here considering it will protract cooking in the sauce).

For the Ragu and Polenta:

  • Sauté: Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, 6-8 minutes. Add garlic and melt 1 spare minute. Add the smoked sausage and the tomatoes and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer until integrated and thickened (about 40 minutes). Finish by subtracting the basil, vinegar, salt, and pepper.
  • Boil: When sauce is halfway ready, bring 4 cups of water and 1 cup of milk to a swash in a medium saucepan. Slowly add polenta and cook, stirring constantly, and reduce heat to low. Protract stirring occasionally until desired consistency (I like a very linty texture) virtually 15-20 minutes (*see notes on polenta exceptions).
  • Combine: Remove from heat and add butter, parmesan, and spare salt, and stir together. Serve by ladling a large spoonful of the polenta into a serving dish then add the smoked sausage ragu, and top with spare parmesan cheese if desired.


*The length of time it will take you to melt your polenta will depend on the grind of cornmeal you use. Make sure to refer to your cornmeal package for their specific instructions.
Find the perfect wine pairing at the Vindulge Wine Shop


Calories: 768kcal | Carbohydrates: 53g | Protein: 29g | Fat: 49g | Saturated Fat: 17g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 23g | Cholesterol: 102mg | Sodium: 1811mg | Potassium: 712mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 448IU | Vitamin C: 15mg | Calcium: 304mg | Iron: 3mg
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