Creamy Polenta with Mushrooms

Creamy Polenta with Mushroom Ragu

 

This dish is so simple.  This dish is so flavorful.  Creamy polenta, earthy mushrooms, nutty cheese, and fresh herbs.  Simplicity at its best. Also vegetarian! (an added bonus).  For you mushroom lovers, this is perfect.

Polenta is made from coarsely ground cornmeal.  It’s a staple in Italian kitchens (and mine).  You need to dedicate about 30 minutes to babysit this lovely dish, but the end result is well worth it.  Blast some tunes, sip on a glass of vino, and enjoy watching this polenta turn into a silky masterpiece.  As the polenta cooks, saute up your mushrooms.  Make sure to serve this dish hot and savor every bite.

Ingredients for Creamy Polenta:

  • 2 cups milk (I used skim)
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup polenta (I like Bob’s Red Mill Organic Corn Grits)
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 1/4 cup pecorino romano cheese, finely grated
  • Fresh cracked black pepper
  • Additional cheese to finish

Ingredients for Mushrooms:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1.5 lbs baby portobello mushrooms, cleaned and sliced into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/8 cup vegetable broth
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

First, make the polenta.  In medium pot combine milk, water, and salt.  Bring to a light boil, slowly pour in the polenta, and whisk to combine.  (This is important, if polenta is added too quickly, lumps will form.)  Reduce heat to low and partially cover the pan.  Check on the polenta every 5 minutes and stir vigorously making sure to scrape down the sides, corners, and bottom of the pan.  Cook until liquid is absorbed and polenta is creamy, about 30 minutes total.  Remove from heat and stir in the butter, pecorino romano cheese, and black pepper.

Note: If the polenta is finished before you are ready to serve it, keep the pot partially covered over very low heat for up to 30 minutes.  Continue to stir frequently and add additional milk if it gets too thick.

Meanwhile, make the mushrooms.  Add olive oil and butter to a large saute pan over medium heat.  Once heated, add shallot and garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Add mushrooms, thyme, and parsley.  Cook for 8-10 minutes stirring occasionally until mushrooms are cooked through and golden.  Be careful not to burn the garlic in the process.  Add broth and scrape down the pan to release any brown bits.  Cook for 2 additional minutes to allow broth to cook off.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Divide polenta into 4 bowls, top with mushrooms, and additional cheese if desired.

Polenta is best when served hot, so make sure to serve immediately.

Servings: 4

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