In North America, cobblers are typically thought of as sweet, made with the best of the season’s fruit. But Old World versions were more likely to be savory. Because cobblers get their name from the cobblestone streets common to villages in Europe, I thought a savory version deserved attention. Mine has sausage and red peppers — classic Italian partners — baked under a cobbled polenta topping.
• 1 tbsp olive oil
• 4 or 5 spicy Italian sausages (about 1 pound), removed from their casings
• Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
• 1 medium onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
• 2 red bell peppers, halved and sliced lengthwise into 1/4-inch strips
• 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
• 2 cups chicken broth
• 2 tablespoons tomato paste
• 3 cups loosely packed baby spinach (about 3 ounces)
• 1/2 cup cooking polenta mix or yellow cornmeal
• 1 tsp baking powder
• 1 tsp baking soda
• 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
• 6 tbsp (3/4 stick) chilled, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
• 1-1/4 cups heavy cream, plus 1 tbsp for brushing
1. Heat the olive oil in a 12-inch cast-iron or other ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and season with a pinch each of salt and pepper. Cook until browned, breaking up with a wooden spoon, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the sausage from the skillet. Pour off all but about 2 tablespoons fat.
2. Add the onion to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until somewhat softened, about 5 minutes. Add the pepper strips and cook 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl whisk together 1/4 cup flour and the tomato paste. Slowly whisk in the chicken broth until well combined; add to the skillet. Stir in the spinach and sausage and cook about 2 minutes, until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and adjust the seasoning, if needed. (The filling may be prepared several hours ahead to this point; let come to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate.)
4. Place an oven rack in the center position. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
5. In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining 1-1/2 cups flour, polenta, baking powder, baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Using a pastry blender, 2 butter knives, or your fingers, cut or rub in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs with various-size chunks of butter visible throughout. Add the Parmesan, cutting or rubbing to lightly mix. Stir in 1-1/4 cups cream until a rough dough forms.
6. Drop 6 or 8 large mounds of polenta over the sausage mixture, 1 inch apart. Brush the remaining 1 tablespoon cream on top. Bake until the filling is bubbly and the polenta topping is golden brown, about 25 minutes; a knife inserted in the center should come out clean. Bring the skillet to the table and serve warm.
Want more one-pot meals? Find more recipes in Easy Meals: One-Pot Recipes for Every Season.
This excerpt has been reprinted with permission from Savory Pies by Greg Henry and published by Ulysses Press, 2012. Buy this book from our store: Savory Pies