Recipe: DJ Olsen’s Grilled Sausage, Braised Greens and Peppers with Fried Herbed Polenta Cake and Salsa Verde

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Today on Good Food Chef DJ Olsen of Lou Wine Bar in Hollywood shares a recipe for Grilled Sausage, Braised Greens and Peppers with Fried Herbed Polenta Cake and Salsa Verde with Laura Avery.  Lou is featuring farmer-inspired dinners every Monday through October 10, 2011.  This recipe was inspired by Maggie’s Farm.

You can find details on the upcoming farmer-inspired dinners here.

Keep reading for the full recipe…

Grilled Sausage, Braised Greens and Peppers, Fried Herbed Polenta Cake, Salsa Verde

Chef DJ Olsen, LOU, Hollywood, CA

Braised Greens and Peppers

yields: 12 servings

keeps: 3 days


3 bunches Cavalo Nero (Tuscan Black Kale, Dinosaur Kale), stems removed, leaves torn into large pieces

3 bunches frisée, root end removed, leaves freed

3 medium-sized sweet red peppers (stem, seeds and membranes removed), thinly julienned

3 red tomatoes (Beefsteak or heirloom variety), seeded, thinly julienned

1 medium-sized red onion, peeled, thinly julienned

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper

2 cups good-quality chicken or vegetable stock

METHOD (preheat convection oven to 475°, hi-speed fan; or 500° still oven)

1. Bring a large stock pot of filtered, salted water to a boil. Add the kale and frisée.

2. Boil until greens have softened and wilted (3-5 mins.)

3. Drain greens and reserve.

4. In a large stainless bowl, combine, peppers, tomatoes, onion, olive oil. Season aggressively. Combine.

5. Place vegetables on a parchment-lined sheet tray, or in an oven-safe baking dish.

6. Roast vegetables until starting to char a little (12-15min.)

7. In a stockpan or large saucepan, combine greens, roasted vegetables, chicken stock.

8. Bring to a boil. Cover. Reduce heat; braise until kale is tender, (10-12 min.). At this point, greens can be used immediately or cooled to room temp., refrigerated until needed, up to 3 days.

Herbed Polenta Cakes

yield: 12 servings

keeps: 3 days

Proper polenta, any self-respecting Italian will insist, requires constant stirring, usually 40 minutes or more. One can circumvent this by purchasing instant (pre-cooked) polenta and simply following the instructions on the box, a process which takes at most, 10 minutes. But neither of these approaches works well in our restaurant, the first monopolizing too much time and labor, the second yielding an inferior result. So instead we use a method that, while it spans three hours, is exceedingly easy to produce with a minimum of effort and which yields a wonderful creamy polenta. All that is required is a little advanced planning.


2-1/2qt. filtered water to start, plus additional for the cooking process

3T kosher salt, or less, depending on your taste

2 cups, polenta, medium grind

1/2 small bunch, parsley, leaves only

1 small bu. sage, leaves only

2 long stems rosemary, leaves only

1 small bunch thyme, leaves only

12 ounces, unsalted butter, cut into 1 ounce pieces

additional salt, as dictated by taste

1 half sheet tray (jelly roll pan), rubbed with 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


1. Bring filtered water and salt to a boil in a stockpot or large saucepan.

2. When water is boiling, rain in the polenta in a steady stream, whisking continuously.

3. Turn heat down to as low as possible. The polenta should just barely bubble, once the heat settles.

4. Set a timer for 3 hours. During the first 2-3 minutes or so, the polenta will thicken substantially. As it does, whisk in a cup of water so the polenta has a slurry-like appearance. Over the next three hours, periodically whisk the polenta to loosen and smooth it out, adding more water as necessary. After each whisking, the polenta should appear somewhat loose.

5. Meantime, mince each of the herbs and combine. Reserve.

6. In the third hour, reduce the amount of water you add. Nearing the end of the third hour, you’ll see that the polenta has become very creamy.

7. Once the polenta is creamy, add all of the herbs at once. Whisk until thoroughly combined.

8. Whisk in the butter pieces a few at a time, until butter is melted and emulsified into polenta.

9. Adjust seasoning with additional salt, to taste

10. Pour into prepared sheet tray. Smooth polenta surface by jiggling sheet pan, side to side, end to end.

11. Set sheet pan on a rack and let cool to room temperature, until polenta has set into a solid mass. At this point the polenta can be cut into any desired shape and used immediately, or wrapped with plastic and refrigerated until needed, up to 3 days.

Salsa Verde

yield: 2 1/2 cups

keeps: 3 days, diminishing quality each day


2C extra virgin olive oil

1 small bu. parsley, leaves only

3-4 large stems basil, leaves only

1 small bu. chives, snipped, 1” batons

1/2 small bu. tarragon, leaves only, or 1 small bu. chervil, leaves only

zest from one small lemon

good pinch salt


1. Place all ingredients in work bowl of food processor; pulse until finely chopped

2. With motor running, drizzle in EV oil until loose salsa is formed, roughly 2C oil; add more as necessary

3. Store in a squeeze bottle, room temperature, or refrigerated until needed, up to 3 days

Completing the Dish


Your favorite sausage

1C AP flour

kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup


1. Grill or roast your favorite sausage and keep warm while your prepare the rest.

2. Combine some AP flour, salt and pepper in a small mixing bowl.

3. Dredge each slice of polenta in the seasoned flour, shaking off excess flour.

4. Heat olive oil over med. high heat, until beginning to ripple.

5. Carefully lay polenta slices into oil and fry until each side is golden.

6. Meantime, reheat greens and pepper mixture.

To plate, place polenta cakes in the center of pre-heated dinner plates. Drizzle a lazy circle of salsa verde around each cake. Top cakes with a tangle of braised greens. Slice sausages into two pieces, on the bias, crosswise through their middle. Arrange sausage slices atop greens. Drizzle with a bit more salsa verde and serve.