But a plate heavy with creamy, cheesy polenta topped with a rich ragu needn't take long. A mere half hour is all this dish took; the polenta plop-plop-plopped away as the ragu simmered down and before long I was wrapped up on the couch, shovelling it in.
It may be vegetarian, but warming and hearty. Mushrooms don't take long to cook and they nestled in with the polenta nicely. Chilli flakes added to the polenta added a kick, making the cheeks rosy and the belly filled.
Mixed Mushroom Ragu with Cheesy Polenta
8 chestnut mushrooms
1 large portabello mushroom
A handful of mixed oyster mushrooms
1 small white onion
3 cloves of garlic
2 sprigs of thyme
1 sprig of rosemary
A hefty slosh of red wine
Half a tin of chopped tomatoes
A big pinch of chilli flakes
400ml veggie stock
A large knob of butter
Heat the stock until it's simmering. Whisk in the polenta and stir well, adding the butter too. Throw in the chilli flakes, turn the heat on low and stir frequently. Add water if it's looking a little dry.
Meanwhile, dice the onion and garlic. Fry in a little oil slowly until softened. Add the thyme and rosemary. Add the red wine and reduce by half. Wash the mushrooms and slice the portabello mushroom thickly, adding to the pan and cook for 4 minutes. Quarter the chestnut mushrooms and add them in. When they've softened add the tomatoes and simmer for 10 minutes. Finally, add the oyster mushrooms and simmer for another five minutes. Season generously with salt and pepper and take off the heat.
By this time the polenta should be nice and creamy. Grate the cheese and stir it into the polenta, taking it off the heat. Serve immediately - any leftover polenta should go into a baking dish to set, so later you can slice it up and fry it. Soak that pan in water immediately. Polenta sticks like shit to a blanket otherwise. Plonk yourself down and tuck in.