Sausage, Fennel and Leek Puff
- 1 fennel bulb, halved and cut lengthwise into
- 2 leeks, white portion only, chopped into 1/2-
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1 lb. mild Italian sausage, casings removed
- 2 1/2 cups milk
- 1 cup finely ground cornmeal
- 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup chopped green onions, green portion
- 4 egg yolks, lightly beaten
- 6 egg whites
Lightly oil a baking sheet. Arrange the fennel and leeks in a single layer on the sheet. Season with salt and pepper and roast until golden and tender, 40 to 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and maintain the temperature at 425°F. Lightly butter a 12-inch braiser or ovenproof fry pan.
Meanwhile, in a large fry pan over medium heat, brown the sausage, stirring with a fork until the sausage is crumbled and cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, bring the milk to a simmer and whisk in the cornmeal, salt and pepper. Cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture is thick and slightly stiff, 16 to 20 minutes. Stir in the cheese, sour cream, green onions, egg yolks, fennel, leeks and sausage. Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap; let cool for 5 minutes.
In another bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Stir 1/2 cup of the whites into the cornmeal mixture until smooth, then fold in the remaining whites. Immediately pour the mixture into the prepared braiser and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375°F and continue baking until the top is golden and the puff is more than double in height, 25 to 30 minutes more.