Monday 15 November 2010

Mixed Mushroom Ragu with Cheesy Polenta

It's cold. Winter is properly setting in, and with late working hours, it's difficult to satisfy those hearty food cravings. Tender meaty stews take hours and by the time I get home I can't wait till midnight before I get my comfort food fix. The hunger pangs persistent, the eyelids would droop.

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

Serves 2

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
150gr cornmeal
A big pinch of chilli flakes
100gr cheddar
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.


Anonymous said...

Never has the verb "to plonk" been more apposite.

Excellent work.

The Grubworm said...

Oh, this sounds like a top winter blanket of a dish - snuggling up to warm cheesy polenta has never seemed so attractive on a cold morning like this. Veggie food can be great if you need a fast, but warm and saucy, hit in the evening. No need to spend all that time slow cooking meat into gooey tenderness.

tori said...

"Sticks like shit to a blanket". Hilarious- and this is my kind of recipe. Have been going NUTS for mixed mushroom at the moment- had them over tagliatelle with an embarrassment of parmesan for my birthday feast a week and a bit ago. But love the idea of them with polenta.

Joshua said...

Mushroom ragout and wet polenta kicks arse.

If I feel in need of a bit of meat I'll add a couple of big Italian sausages too, browning them first and removing then using the oil and sausage fat to begin the mushroom ragout and then chucking them back in with the tomatoes for the final simmer.

Graphic Foodie said...

I'd happily eat that! Now have huge polenta cravings.

PDH said...

This looks fantastic but I reckon you should get yourself a slow cooker to help fulfil those comfort food pangs. Just turn it on in the morning and by the time you are home you are sorted!

Ino said...

Years of eating in college have put me off polenta big time. This does look lovely though and maybe it's time I gave it another go. Love the mushroom ragu idea, I too love a good stew but get impatient with meaty ones on weeknights.

Unknown said...

oh GOD this looks amazing!... bits of saliva are dripping onto my keyboard... that's probably more than you need to know... but wow!

Jonathan said...

Wonderful image in my head of crap encrusted blankets. Gross. But delicious recipe.

Sarah said...

Never fancy polenta much even in Itlay - but this does look and sound very appetising. Must try!

S said...

i love polenta and those mushrooms, lots of umami. gorgeous dish. x shayma

Su-Lin said...

Love the idea of a mushroom ragu. My first go at polenta a long time ago wasn't that great though I suspect it was because I didn't use stock. Nom nom nom.

Joshua said...

PS With the government bank bailout and subsequent huge financial worker bonuses solely from the asset price booms it caused you probably paid for that wine yourself really.

Kitchen Benchtops said...

Yummy! I love mushroom ragu with cheesy polenta! Thanks for sharing the recipes!