The Recipes

Soft Polenta with Mushroom Ragu

There are certain foods that I just love, including mushrooms... especially when there is butter and garlic involved.  Just amazing on a cold winter afternoon.  After several days in a row of meat-driven dishes, this was a welcome change.

Make sure you rub the tops of the mushrooms with a dry kitchen towel to clean them - don't rinse them off!  Secondly, make sure to cook them in a single layer.  They release moisture, so you need them to individually brown and carmelize.  Finally, season them after you have carmelized them.  Otherwise, you will leech out all of the liquid from the mushrooms.



Soft Polenta with Mushroom Ragu

Ingredients:

- 5-6 button or baby bella mushrooms, stems removed and sliced
- 5-6 oyster mushrooms, stems removed and sliced
- 1/2 shallot, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 c. polenta (cornmeal grits)
- 1 c. chicken or vegetable stock
- 2 T. butter
- 3 T. of cheese
- salt
- pepper
- olive oil
- flat-leaf parsley, chopped for garnish

Slowly heat the stock in a small pot with a pinch of salt.  Once it is almost boiling, add the polenta and reduce to a simmer.  Let it cook for 25-30 minutes, stirring constantly.

Halfway through the cooking time of the polenta, heat 1 T. of olive oil in a skillet.  If it is small, add the mushrooms in batches and cook them just until browned on each side; approximately 6 minutes per batch.  Remove the mushrooms and add another T. of olive oil if needed.  Add the shallot, season with salt, and soften for two minutes.  Stir in the garlic and dried thyme and cook for another minute.  Add 1 T. of butter and keep at low heat.

Stir the other T. of butter into the polenta, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.  Stir in 3 T. of cheese of your choice - parm, cheddar, whatever you want.  I had some wonderful ricotta leftover that made this ridiculously smooth.

Plate the polenta and spoon the mushrooms into the middle.  Garnish with the parsley, or perhaps extra cheese.