A couple of weeks ago I was invited to a dinner at Pane e Vino to celebrate their nearly 20 years serving some of the best, traditional Italian in Brisbane. Now a survival of 20 years in the restaurant industry is no mean feat, and I was curious to find out just why this place had been so successful. And, with a very warm welcome, and just one mouthful of the first dish, I figured it out.
Pane e Vino is all about simple, traditional Italian fare, the way Nonna would make it. Tony and Gino gave up their day jobs, and along with their parents, have created casual dining experience where you really do feel like part of the family.
The Pane e Vino menu is full of traditional favourites, Gnocchi with cream and gorgonzola, which was delicious. Mussels with tomato, chilli, garlic and parsley, amazing! But my favourite, was the Polenta a la Tavola. Literally translating to ‘polenta on the table’. To me, this dish was the epitome of Pane e Vino. Comforting, honest, simple, designed for sharing and most of all, absolutely scrumptious!
So, as I do. I get obsessed and need to recreate. This is my version of the dish with my home made sausage. I insist that you make this immediately if you cannot get down to Pane e Vino, it’s really good!
- 1 vine of truss cherry tomatoes, about 8-10 tomatoes
- 6 pork and fennel sausages * See note at the bottom
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 2 tbs tomato paste
- 1 tin chopped tomatoes
- 1 cup passata
- ½ tsp raw sugar
- Salt and pepper
- Olive oil
- 1 cup polenta
- ½ cup chicken stock
- ½ cup milk
- 1 cup water
- ½ cup grated parmesan
- 2 tbs butter
- In a large saucepan, on medium high heat, sauté onions and garlic in a little olive oil. Cook for 4 minutes until soft. Add tomato paste and cook off for a further minute. Next squeeze your sausage filling out of the casing and into the onions. Break up with your spoon and cook through and broken up. Add your tinned tomatoes and passata. Once heated through, have a taste, add your sugar and salt and pepper to taste. Leave to cook on a low simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
- Place truss cherry tomatoes on a baking tray and bake at 180 for about 15 minutes. Set aside and keep warm.
- Check your ragu for seasoning. Once ready, leave on low and start your polenta.
- Put the stock, water and milk in a saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Slowly pour the polenta into the hot liquid, whisking briskly to prevent clumping. Reduce the heat to low and cook, whisking constantly, for about 5 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed. Add the cheese and butter, stirring gently until incorporated.
- Spoon a mound of soft polenta on a large serving dish. Ladle the ragu over the polenta and garnish with shaved parmesan and top with the truss of roasted cherry tomatoes. Enjoy with a glass of red and good company.
- * If you do not have a grinder, you can still use my pork and fennel sausages recipe, just throw the ingredients in a food processor and blitz until ‘minced’. Alternatively you could use good quality store bought pork and fennel sausages.