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Mushroom Ragoût over Creamy Polenta

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Serves 4

  • by Melissa Pellegrino from Fine Cooking
    Issue 120

A mix of mushrooms contributes deep, earthy flavor to this vegetarian main dish. Instant polenta, with a flavor boost from mascarpone and Parmigiano-Reggiano, helps keep the cooking time short.

  • 1/2 oz. dried porcini (about 1/2 cup)
  • 3 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 3 medium shallots, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 lb. mixed fresh mushrooms (shiitake, oyster, cremini, hen of the woods), trimmed and coarsely chopped (10 to 12 cups)
  • 1/2 cup dry vermouth
  • 2 Tbs. heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup chopped mixed fresh herbs, such as tarragon, parsley, thyme, chives, and sage
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup instant polenta
  • 1/4 cup mascarpone
  • 1/2 oz. finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1/2 cup using a rasp grater)

In a small bowl, soak the porcini in 1-1/2 cups warm water until softened, about 10 minutes. Lift the mushrooms out and reserve 1 cup of the liquid. Coarsely chop the mushrooms.

Meanwhile, in an 8-quart Dutch oven or other heavy-duty pot, heat 1 Tbs. of the butter with the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 4 minutes. Add the fresh mushrooms and 1 tsp. salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms start to soften, about 6 minutes. Add the porcini and cook until the mushrooms are very tender and release their liquid, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the vermouth and cook until all the liquid is evaporated, about 2 minutes. Add the reserved cup of porcini liquid, leaving any sediment behind in the measuring cup, and cook until reduced to about 3/4 cup, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream and 3 Tbs. of the herbs. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep warm.

Bring 3-1/2 cups of water to a boil in a 4-quart heavy-duty saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 1-1/2 tsp. salt and then gradually whisk in the polenta. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook until the polenta absorbs the water and thickens, about 3 minutes. Stir in the remaining 2 Tbs. butter and the mascarpone. Add the Parmigiano and stir until combined. Serve the polenta topped with the mushroom ragoût and sprinkled with the remaining 1 Tbs. herbs.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 590; Fat (g): 35; Fat Calories (kcal): 320; Saturated Fat (g): 17; Protein (g): 16; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 13; Carbohydrates (g): 51; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 2; Sodium (mg): 620; Cholesterol (mg): 80; Fiber (g): 7;

Photo: Scott Phillips

This was really tasty and I would say served more like 5 people with a salad on the side. The only things I did differently are cooking off the liquid from the mushrooms and browning them slightly at high heat before adding the vermouth(because I am picky about the texture of my mushrooms and was worried they would be rubbery) and added some more grated parmesan on top which really brought the whole thing together.

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