For the Love of
Polenta, Mushrooms and Cheese
Whenever the weather gets a little gloomy, I always turn it into a good opportunity to make comfort food that’s warm, hearty and filling. And yesterday’s lunch was just this: a nice bowl of warm and creamy polenta topped with red wine infused mushrooms and soft, melted taleggio cheese. And had this been my dinner, I would have enjoyed a nice glass of Pinot Noir.
This recipe is the kind that requires you play some nice music in your kitchen, carefully set all the stuff you will need to cook with before you and just begin, slowly but with determination, to cook. While it’s not hard to make, this dish requires completing a few steps and since it’s not a one-pot-thing, it does takes a little time to make. So, perhaps make this when you’re really in the mood for spending some quality time in your kitchen.
The mushrooms I’ve used aren’t the ones I would have necessarily preferred. Ideally, I would have used the regular white ones mixed with a few cremini mushrooms and porcini. So, if you can get your hands on some of those, you should totally use them for this recipe. Other than that, I wouldn’t change a thing. This dish was perfect, indulging and delicious. And I’m going to cook this again very soon, but I’m planning to serve it as an appetiser in individual ramekins.
Without further ado, here’s the recipe. And if you love polenta, mushrooms and cheese, then you should definitely make this!
Creamy Polenta with Mushroom Ragù and Cheese
For the topping:
30g/2Tblsp unsalted butter
One shallot/small red onion
Two garlic cloves, shelled and crushed
1 tsp dried thyme or 4 sprigs fresh thyme
600g/1½ pound regular mushrooms (or a mix of regular, cremini and porcini)
125 ml/½ cup red wine
125 ml/½ cup vegetable or chicken stock
150g/5 oz Taleggio cheese or Fontina, sliced
For the polenta:
500ml/2 cups milk
500ml/2 cups water
1 bay leaf
½ tsp dried thyme or 2 sprigs fresh thyme
250g/1 cup cornmeal
45g/3 Tblsp unsalted butter
100g Parmesan, shredded
To make the mushroom stew, place the butter in a large skillet set over medium-low heat. When bubbling, add the shallot and cook until soft and sweaty. Add the garlic and thyme and cook for another minute. Add the mushrooms, turn the heat up and cook until soft, a couple of minutes, stirring the pan. Add the wine and boil for a minute or two. Add the stock and and simmer for 15-20 minutes until you have a thickened mushroom stew, then turn off the hob.
To make the polenta, bring the milk and the water along with the bay leaf and thyme to a boil. Turn of the hob and leave to infuse for 15 minutes. Remove the bay leaf, bring to a boil again. Start pouring the cornmeal in a steady stream and whisk continuously to prevent lumps forming. When the polenta has thickened, add the butter and the Parmesan and cook for another minute. Plop the polenta in an oven-proof dish, cover with the mushroom ragù, top with the Taleggio slices and pop under the oven grill for a couple of minutes until the cheese has melted. Serve right away and enjoy each and every mouthful of this creamy and delicious concoction!