'U Sugu' and polenta - South meets North
Posted on Saturday 07th of January 2006 under
We don't often talk about food from other parts of Italy on this diary - but that does not mean that we don't eat them (or foods from many other parts of the world from that matter). In order to rectify this thus far incomplete view of the food world of loveSicily ;-) let's hope that this post will be the first of many where traditional Sicilian recipes get twisted in a "fusion cooking" kind of way.
Our first step is about as moderate as you could possibly imagine. "U Sugu" served alongside polenta.
"U sugu", which really just means "the sauce", is a combination of pork meat, sicilian sausages and a simple but very tasty sauce which at its base has the famous 'strattu - a thick tomato paste dried in the sun. The process begins with a sautè of onions in extra-virgin olive oil and sealing the pork. Red wine is added, and the concentrate of 'strattu, bay leaves, some water and the whole thing simmers for at least a couple of hours. Some chili flakes can be added to taste. During the last half-hour Sicilian sausages are added which release some strong flavours because of the fennel seeds in them. Good pork will give the sauce a nice smoothness and fattiness which is perfect for a cold winter day.
Polenta is a staple food of the North of Italy - it is in its most basic form just a mush of corn and about as simple a dish as you could ever imagine. However, getting a good polenta is hardly simple - to the purists a copper pot and a wooden spoon over a wood fire are essential components to getting it just right. We must admit that we went for a ready made one - which makes the whole affair much simpler! Polenta is, inevitably, a companion ingredient since on its own it simply tastes of corn.
The combination of the two was quite successful. Usually the pork sauce is combined with home-made pasta or ricotta ravioli. The corn taste of the polenta and its firmness gave the dish an interesting twist. We still think that the combination with ravioli filled with ricotta is probably the best way to enjoy this dish but this is an interesting alternative and, we hypothesised while eating - could become even more interesting if the polenta was also grilled to give a smoky flavour to the dish - an experiment which we may try soon.