One of the things about this blog is that it gives me the chance to not only explore Disney foods I’ve never gotten the chance to try in the parks, but that it gives me the chance to make something that I tried while on a vacation and loved.
Like Remy describes (yes, I’m talking about the fictional rat from “Ratatouille”), good food comes together, like a symphony, and takes you on a journey, sometimes to an entirely different time and place.
That is what this dish did for me. One bite and I was back in EPCOT, walking the World Showcase on a beautiful, sunny day, probably on my way to Soarin or the Japan Pavilion.
This meal has quite the background. It was one of the most popular dishes on Le Cellier’s appetizer menu. Served in a cast iron skillet, designed for family-style sharing, it was a great, fun, and unique appetizer option.
When the restaurant changed their menu to reflect their new status as a signature dining option, despite its popularity, the dish was retired.
Believe it or not, threads started popping up on various forums of people trying to figure out where it went, where else they can go in Disney to find it, even how to make it.
When people talked about the reasons it was such a tragedy Le Cellier went to an all-day signature dining experience, the retiring of this dish was a complaint that came up frequently.
Perhaps due to that popular demand, the following year at the EPCOT’s Food and Wine Festival a version of the dish appeared again at Canada’s kiosk, which is also where I had it for the first time.
I mean seriously, who could pass up a booth that had both sausage and the famous Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup?
I vividly remember waiting in a long line, juggling multiple plates (two of each the soup and the sausage) while scrambling to find a spot to eat because every chair, bench, and table was full.
Ben and I ended up finding a spot on the top of a covered trash can in a little area right next to the World Showcase Lagoon. We stood and ate, hunkered over this stupid garbage can, just relishing every single bite while enjoying a postcard perfect day at EPCOT.
I still remember how the sky was so blue, it almost hurt to look at it, and all the trees and plants around the lake were a vivid, emerald green. It was warm, with a beautiful breeze that was strong enough that there were little waves rolling across the lagoon. Stunning. Peaceful. For sure a happy Disney moment.
I can’t say how happy I am to have this recipe. This is really just a memory on a plate. Even with the slight changes I made (more on that in a minute), every moment of this recipe was an exciting Disney memory, a fantastic Disney smell…
Not even joking when I say while I was making the polenta, I yelled out “This smells like Disney!” and all five people in the house huddled over the pot taking big, deep breaths.
We all agreed, by the way, it does smell like Disney… It smells exactly like the buffet area of Tusker House. Just saying.
Anyway, I did make some tweaks to the recipe. First off, I used frozen corn instead of cutting fresh corn off the cob and roasting it. We live in New Hampshire and it’s March… Fresh corn on the cob? Not happening.
While I’m sure it would have been a deeper flavor if I’d used that roasted corn, the frozen corn was certainly a completely delicious, functional substitute. The other somewhat major change I made was I used spicy pork sausage.
The recipe as written calls for chicken sausage, and while the version at Le Cellier did alternate between spicy pork and spicy chicken sausage, the Food and Wine version does use exclusively chicken sausage.
My switch was purely personal preference and economics… I’m not a huge fan of the chicken sausage available at our grocery store, and regular sausage was on sale.
The only other special notes I have about this recipe is that this recipe is the base to both the old Le Cellier appetizer, but also the Food and Wine Festival’s Canada offering. That said, both dishes are dressed slightly differently…
One with a lot of greens, a little cheese, and the other with a sauteed pepper onion mixture. When I served this, I went just with the base recipe, the polenta and the sausage.
Of all the dishes I’ve made in recent memory, this was one of my absolute favorite meals. Everybody loved it and we had absolutely no leftovers.
I did stick with the creamy polenta as opposed to letting it cook up so that it was more firm (which is what they do at Disney too), and I think it was the absolute perfect compliment to that spicy sausage. I couldn’t get enough of this meal. I’m already dreaming about when I can make it again…
Only one bite and I was back next to the World Showcase Lagoon enjoying an amazing meal on the top of a covered trash can, thinking about Soarin Fastpasses, sake tasting in Japan, and enjoying a perfect fall day at EPCOT.
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Spicy Sausage with Cream Sweet Corn Polenta
As was served at Le Cellier, Canada Pavilion, EPCOT and Food and Wine Festival, Canada Kiosk
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium Spanish onion, small dice
2 tablespoons diced garlic
2/3 cup fresh corn, about one cob, removed from cob
1/2 ounce basil, fresh chopped (or 1 tablespoon basil)
1 cup water
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup ground yellow or white cornmeal
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 teaspoon chopped chives
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 pound spicy sausage links, chicken or pork, casings removed (if slicing in half for serving)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat olive oil in oven-safe skillet over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, corn, and cook about 5 minutes or until onions are translucent and garlic is fragrant. Add in basil and stir about 10 seconds.
Add water, cream, maple syrup, bring mixture to a light boil. Reduce heat to low and while whisking briskly, add in cornmeal. Cook on low heat for 5 minutes while continually whisking mixture.
Cover the pan with foil and bake 45 minutes or until polenta is creamy and absorbed most of the liquid, similar to the consistency of oatmeal. Remove pan from oven and stir in the chives, Parmesan cheese. Season to taste. Keep warm but set aside.
Grill sausages until done and juices are clear.
Spoon polenta onto warmed plates or serve in skillet. Slice sausages in half lengthwise and serve over the warmed polenta. Top with grilled vegetables, greens, or cheese, or serve as is.