We attended the 2nd Edible Vermont Food Exchange last weekend. This is a great Vermont food event that I dreamed up months ago and finally saw to fruition when my friend Sandy who owns Brown and Jenkins Coffee jumped in to co-host and provide the perfect space for it to happen. Basically a mix of home cooks and canners and some commercial companies come together. Everyone brings some of their favorite items and a food swap ensues. The goal is to walk in with your items and leave with a plethora of new things to try. I learned last time to bring my stuff in a container that was conducive to packing with my new treasures when I left, hence my laundry basket came with me. You can check out our event photos here.
Here's the before:
I brought freshly baked bread, cranberry onion jam, cranberry catsup, homemade dog treats, and apple chutney. I forgot to take a picture of my after but it included lamb sausage, ground venison, kettle corn, turkey rice soup, nut bars, cookies, coffee, eggs, and rice and beans.
So after thawing my homemade lamb sausage which I got by trading apple chutney to Waiora Valley Farm, I decided a slow cooker bolognese sauce was the way to go.
This recipe makes "tons". No it's not a technical term but you could easily serve this at a large dinner party. We ate it for a family dinner and I now have 3 large mason jars in my fridge. My parents will be the lucky recipient of one jar, my husband will demolish another, and one will be processed for storage for a later windy wintery day.
Lamb Sausage Crockpot Bolognese with Polenta Cupcakes
(serves 4 plus leftover for canning)
1 1/2 pounds lamb sausage (you could use ground lamb if you wanted to- I would add sage & spices)
1 TBS olive oil
2 28 oz can whole tomatoes
1 28 oz can tomato puree
1 cup of red wine
3 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced.
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp pepper
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley (or 2 TBS dried, I used frozen cubes from last summers CSA share)
2 cloves crushed garlic
2 bay leaves
For the polenta cupcakes:
6 cups water
2 1/2 tsp salt
1 3/4 cup cornmeal
1. Lightly cook the lamb sausage in a frying pan using the 1 TBS of olive oil. You want it to change to a light tan color but don't overcook it.
2. Dump the 3 cans of tomato products into the slow cooker. Add the wine (I probably put in more like 10 oz because I measured in one of the tomato puree cans.).
Add the lamb and the bay leaves.
3. Peel and thinly slice the carrots. Add them to the crockpot along with the parsley, onion powder, salt and pepper.
Smash the garlic cloves,
peel them and drop them in the pot.
Start the pot, I cooked for 4 hours on high but you could also do 8 hours on low if you were starting it in the morning.
4. About a half hour before you want to serve dinner preheat the oven to 425. Start 6 cups of water boiling on the stove. When it reaches a boil add 2 1/2 tsp of kosher salt (reduce amount if using table salt). Here's where I took the lazy approach. If you're going to use a whisk you need to gradually add the cornmeal so that it doesn't clump, you'll need to be whisking the whole time. I'm lazy, pregnant, and constant whisking hurts my back so I dumped in the whole thing of cornmeal, plugged in my electric hand mixer and mixed it on medium while it was on the stovetop. Voila, no clumps! Once the mixture comes together and is more like a batter than a liquid turn off the heat. This takes about 15 minutes with the whisk method and 5 if you use the electric hand mixer. At this point in time I deviate from standard polenta recipes. Most recipes will have you add butter. I don't feel like it needs it so I don't.
5. Spray two muffin tins with cooking spray. Fill the cups with the polenta and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown on top. They will still be creamy in the middle. I like the texture added by baking the polenta, crunchy and creamy makes me happy.
|Pale before being baked.|
|Golden after coming out of the oven.|
6. Serve the bolognese sauce over the polenta cupcakes. Polenta packs a punch- it looks unassuming but is extremely hearty and filling. If polenta isn't your thing you could also serve the bolognese over mashed potatoes or pasta. Enjoy!