I have to thank my sister Vicki for sending me this recipe. This recipe came from one of our favorite great-aunts - Aunt Mimi (married to grandma Rulli's baby brother Salvatore Sestili). Our dad loved polenta! He would call it Depression food because they ate a lot of it during the Great Depression.
Brown 2 lbs Italian sausage with garlic (or 1 lb ground beef & 1 pound sausage) - Drain fat and set aside.
In a pot:
1 Big can Tomato Sauce/Puree
2 Big cans water
1 6 oz Tomato Paste
Salt & Pepper to taste
Basil, Parsley to taste (I add Oregano)
Cook 2-3 hours (simmer/low boil) until thick. Stir often.
Sauce can be made days ahead of time. (This is a very old original recipe when you had to make your own sauce. You can use a store bought sauce that you like - about 2 quarts.)
Bring to boil in a big heavy pot - 7 Cups Water
Meanwhile - mix in a bowl:
2.5 Cups Cornmeal
2 Cups cold water
2.5 teaspoons salt
SLOWLY add cormeal mixture into boiling water. STIR constantly (or it will be lumpy).
When boiling lower heat and cover. Cook 10-15 minutes stirring often.
Butter 2 pans of the same size. I use 9" x 13" cake pans. Pour or spoon 1/2 the mixture into each pan. It will not fill the pan and is not thick. Spread. Set 1 pan aside to cool. Take the remaining pan and layer some sauce on top of the mixture. Sprinkle with Romano or Parmesan cheese. (You can also use mozzarella, feta, goat or any other cheese you like.)
Take the cooled pan (without the sauce) and cut into 4 squares. Carefully put each square on top of the cornmeal/sauce pan. This will cover it completely.
Top with more sauce and Romano/Parmesan.
If baking right away : Bake at 350⁰ for 45 mins - 1 hour (or more - should be hot and bubbling). Everything is cooked, you are just heating it up.
Do Not bake or add cheese to the top if you are freezing this for a later meal. To freeze - lay plastic wrap on top of meat - no air. Then cover well with tin foil (now aluminum foil) and place in plastic bag. To bake - remove foil and plastic covers, thaw, then add final cheese topping. Bake at 350⁰ for 1 hour (or more).
Side notes: Great uncle Salvatore Sestili, born 1921, Great aunt "Mimi" - Marie Antoinette Perisi Sestili (1923 - June 15, 2006)