Creamy Polenta with Wild Mushroom Ragu

Posted by Donna-Marie Pye on

Cosy is on the menu with this class Italian vegetarian dish. Polenta is made from cornmeal. You don’t need to buy products specifically labeled polenta, but it is helpful to assure the quality and size of the cornmeal. The real trick to making wonderful creamy polenta is time. Instant polenta can cook in less than 10 minutes, while regular polenta can take up to an hour, based on grind size.




  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup quick-cooking polenta
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 oz Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated, plus more for topping
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Mushroom Ragu:

  • 1 lb assorted wild mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 can (19 oz/398 mL) diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine, divided
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp butter, divided
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, cut into ribbons


  1. To prepare polenta: To a large saucepan set over medium-high heat, add chicken broth and milk and bring to a boil. Slowly pour in polenta, while vigorously whisking to prevent lumps. Reduce heat to simmer and cook until the mixture thickens, using a wooden spoon to stir constantly and adding more broth or water as needed to adjust consistency. Refer to packaging instructions for cooking times. When polenta is soft and creamy, stir in butter, cheese, and parsley. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
  2. To prepare mushrooms: Clean mushrooms with a small brush or damp paper towel. Remove the stems from the mushrooms and reserve for another use. Slice mushrooms into 1/4-inch by 1-inch pieces.
  3. To a large skillet set over medium heat, add 1 tbsp olive oil. Add shallot and fennel; cook until lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant and softened, about 1 more minute. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  4. To the same skillet over medium-high heat, add remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Working in batches, add about half the mushrooms (careful not to crowd the pan) and season generously with salt and pepper. Sauté mushrooms until tender and beginning to caramelize, 2 to 3 minutes. Add half the wine to deglaze the pan, using a wooden spoon to release any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook until wine is almost evaporated and transfer to the bowl with shallot mixture; repeat with remaining mushrooms and wine.
  5. Return shallots, fennel, and mushrooms to the skillet over medium heat. Add tomatoes and broth and bring to a simmer. Simmer until liquid is reduced by half. Add butter and stir briskly to blend with the pan juices. Remove from heat and fold in thyme and basil. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
  6. To serve: Transfer polenta to a medium serving dish or divide among 4 warmed dinner plates, spoon mushrooms over polenta, and garnish with cheese; serve immediately.



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