Mushroom Polenta Ragout


This is a great dish (Gourmet, 1993), is easy to prepare and bakes unwatched in the oven. Great for everyday or for special dinners. The alcohol of the wine evaporates, leaving the delicious flavor of the wine.

You will need:

1 large onion, chopped fine
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp dried rosemary, crumbled
3 tbls olive oil
1 pound of white mushrooms, sliced thin
1/2 pound of shiitake mushrooms (optional), discard stems and quarter
1 tbls tomato paste
1 cup dry red wine
1 tbls cornstarch
1 1/3 cups vegetable broth
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

6 cups water
1 tbls olive oil
2 cups yellow cornmeal
2 tbls butter, cut into pieces
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup minced fresh parsley
1/4 pound mozzarella, diced fine

This recipe is in three parts:

First, make the mushroom ragout: in a large deep skillet cook the onion, the garlic, and the rosemary in the oil over medium heat, stirring, until the onion is softened, add the mushrooms and salt to taste, and cook, stirring, for about ten minutes. The liquid the mushrooms give off should be evaporated.
Stir in the tomato paste and the wine and boil the mushroom mixture until most of the liquid is evaporated.

In a small bowl stir the cornstarch into the broth, add the mixture and the Worcestershire sauce to the mushroom mixture, bring to a boil, stirring. Simmer the ragout for 2 minutes and season with salt and pepper.

Now make the polenta: In a large, heavy saucepan bring the water with the oil to a boil and add 1 cup of the cornmeal, a bit at a time, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to low, add the remaining 1 cup cornmeal in a slow stream, stirring constantly, and bring to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter, 2/3 cup of the Parmesan, the parsley, salt and pepper to taste.

Spread one third of the polenta evenly in a buttered 13x9 inch baking dish and chill the polenta sheet for 20 minutes. This will be used to cut out stars for the top of the dish. You can skip this step if you want the top fully covered.

Spread half of the polenta in a buttered 3 quart shallow baking dish, top it with half the mushroom ragout, and top the ragout with the mozzarella. Spread the remaining polenta quickly over the mozzarella and top it with the remaining ragout.

For the stars: invert the polenta sheet onto a work surface and cut out as many stars as possible. Arrange them decoratively on the ragout and sprinkle them with the remaining 1/3 cup Parmesan. At this point, the dish may be covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days.

Cook in a 400 degree oven. Bake in the upper third of the oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until the polenta stars are golden.

This is an incredible dish! Just a hint of the deep wine flavor in a great sauce, and the herbed polenta is wonderful. I urge you to try out this dish!