creamy herbed polenta with mushroom ragout

We tend to associate comfort food with winter but this creamy bowl of polenta is also good on a summer evening.  Simple and comforting, it is like sunshine in a bowl.  It is luscious without being heavy and satisfying without being overly rich.  Well-made polenta, with plenty of butter and parmesan cheese, is delicious by itself.  Topped with an earthy mushroom ragout, it’s even better. I served this polenta alongside Grilled Lamb Chops marinated in olive oil, garlic, rosemary, and thyme and a green salad with a simple meyer lemon and olive oil vinaigrette.  The whole combination was hearty, yet still fitting for supper on a warm summer evening.

Polenta is fairly easy to make, but involves constant stirring.  The rewards are plentiful, though, as it is highly versatile.  Polenta can be served for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  It can be served hot or cold, soft or firm.  I used Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Polenta, and I loved the results. First of all, Bob’s Red Mill batch tests all of their gluten-free products to ensure that they are indeed free of gluten. This is really important to me since I have family members who are on gluten-free diets. In addition, the polenta is full of fresh, corn flavor and it cooked quickly, so I was able to avoid the long stirring process.

Creamy Herbed Polenta with Mushroom Ragout
Yields 6 servings

Ingredients:
For the Ragout
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 shallots, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 ounces chanterelle mushrooms, cleaned and halved (I used rehydrated dried chanterelles as it was the only kind I could find)
1/4 pound oyster mushrooms, trimmed and halved
1/4 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded, caps thickly sliced
1/4 pound baby cremini mushrooms, stems discarded and halved
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup chicken stock (I used low sodium chicken broth)
4-5 large thyme sprigs

For the Polenta
2 cups whole milk
2 to 3 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth, or more depending on desired consistency
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup ( about 7 ounces) polenta (I used Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Polenta)
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoon mascarpone cheese
1 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
2 teaspoon finely chopped thyme
2 teaspoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Method:
In a large, deep skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the butter and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Sauté half of the shallots and garlic and all of the chanterelles and oyster mushrooms over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally until softened, about 5-6 minutes. Transfer mushrooms onto a plate.

In the same skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Sauté the remaining shallots and garlic along with the shiitake and cremini mushrooms over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally until softened, about 5-6 minutes. Return all of the mushrooms to the skillet, season with salt and pepper and cook another minute. Add the chicken stock or broth and thyme sprigs to the skillet and simmer for 5 minutes. Discard the thyme sprigs.

In a large saucepan, combine milk, 2 cups stock and butter and bring to a boil. Whisk in the polenta and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until thick, about 8-10 minutes. Add the remaining cup of stock, a little at a time, if necessary, to achieve the creamy consistency desired. Remove from the heat and stir in the heavy cream, mascarpone, herbs and parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper.

To serve, spoon the polenta onto plates, top with the mushroom ragout and serve immediately.  Garnish with more grated Parmesan.

To reheat, add more chicken stock to the polenta, to achieve the creaminess desired. Re-season with salt and pepper, if needed.

Adapted from Food and Wine.

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12 thoughts on “creamy herbed polenta with mushroom ragout

  1. Pingback: Seven Days, Seven Meals Cooking Challenge

  2. Pingback: Savory mushroom ragout with creamy herbed polenta | Jane & Michael's Gourmet Extravaganza

  3. I feel the same way about polenta. Made a very similar dish for dinner last night (with a poached egg) and it was creamy goodness. I love Bob’s Mill organic corn grits/polenta. Amazing product!

  4. It’s been so long since I’ve had some well-made polenta! This looks so good and makes me miss the chef who used to make it for me! Maybe I’ll just have to make it myself… one of these days!

  5. Pinned! I can’t wait to try this!

    BTW, I think I got my email list sorted out so keep an eye out in the next week for emails. If you don’t get one, try subscribing again.

  6. This sounds absolutely lovely Daisy! I adore polenta. I bought a sack here in London of old-fashioned polenta that takes 45 MINUTES to cook. About 20-30 minutes in my arms are on fire! I agree that polenta is not just a cold-weather dish.

    • I’m glad there is a quicker way to cook polenta. I injured my right rotator cuff years ago, and I’m afraid whisking cream by hand, stirring polenta for 45 minutes, etc. is out of the question.

  7. I love polenta! But I will wait for winter to make my batch…..it’s too darn hot in my kitchen to even more, let alone stir! Will try this when the weather cools down and I will be happy to work up a sweat! Great post!

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