Layered Polenta with Mushrooms and Sausage / Polenta Pasticciata

Some of the finest cornmeal comes from the region of Lombardia and is the basis for many classic dishes including this polenta pasticciata, a layered cornmeal pie. It is best to use stone-ground cornmeal because some of the nutritious hull and germ are maintained, but if it is not available, regular cornmeal will do, but will not have the same texture.

Serves 6 to 8


  • 2/3 cup dried Porcini mushrooms
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 pound stone-ground cornmeal
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 pounds sweet pork sausage, removed from the casing
  • 2 to 2 1/2 cups prepared tomato sauce
  • Salt to taste
  • Grinding black pepper
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • Ingredients


  1. Put the mushrooms in a bowl and cover them with hot water.  Set aside and allow them to soak to rehydrate them for at least 35 minutes.  This step can be done a day ahead.
  2. Combine the water and milk in a large saucepan; stir in the cornmeal and whisk it until it dissolves.  Over medium-high heat, cook the cornmeal, whisking constantly until the polenta thickens and begins to leave the sides of the pan and forms a loose ball.
  3. Scoop the polenta out onto a lightly oiled large cutting board or baking sheet and spread it evenly.  Allow it to cool.  It is best to refrigerate the polenta for an hour before slicing it or make it ahead and hold it covered overnight in the refrigerator.
  4. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a sauté pan and cook the sausage until it is browned.  Drain the mushrooms, reserving the water.  Chop the mushrooms and add them to the pan with the sausage.  Stir in the tomato sauce and cook for 20 minutes.  Add 1/4 cup of the porcini liquid and cook 20 minutes longer.  Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Butter a 9 X 12-inch casserole dish. 
  6. Spread a thin layer of the sausage sauce in the base of the casserole dish.  Cut the polenta into 1/2-inch thick slices to fit the pan and make a layer in the casserole over the sauce.  Spread more sauce over the polenta and sprinkle with some of the cheese.
  7. Continue making layers, ending with the polenta and sprinkle the top with the remaining cheese and dot with the butter.
  8. Bake until the cheese is nicely browned and the casserole is hot, about 25 to 30 minutes.
  9. Let the casserole stand for about 5 minutes before cutting.

This recipe was featured on Season 18 - Episode 1811.

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Ed Woelfle

OMG !!!
I just made the Sausage Mushroom Polenta.
Soooo Delicious. I may put it on my Menu.
Thanks MaryAnn. You’re Very, Very Good. And out of all the cooking shows, I really like your’s as one of my Top 3 Favorites. I really love the way you teach the audience. Thank-you, Ed Woelfle

Darnell Privott

Yes I agree, MaryAnn you’re actually my top cooking show teacher choice along with America’s Test Kitchen and the other great PBS cooking shows. I’m going to try this recipe. I love how your recipes are so rich yet so easy and with minimal ingredients. I made your italian meatloaf and oh my god it was good!! So I KNOW this will be good! Thanks MaryAnn, your shows are a highlight of my evening.

Vera Talevi

My husband and I watch your program every Saturday and we would like you to know that we enjoy you and your wonderful nastalgic recipes. Keep up the good work and never leave Public Broadcasting. Have a very merry Christ

Vera from Cooperstown, New York

francesco l capaldi

absolutely the best recipe in the world. all my family and friends beg me to make this recipe for them.


I make this similar but just put the single layer of polenta in the baking pan, then the sauce with sausage and mushrooms, then a healthy dose of cheese and heat it through and get a nice browning on top.. YES!!!!! YES !!!!!! a thousand times, YES!!!!!!

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