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Mushroom Ragu with Creamy Polenta



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3 3/4 cups water, divided
1 cup yellow corn meal or quick-cooking polenta
Kosher salt, as needed
Pepper, as needed
1/8 cup dried porcini mushrooms
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 cup shallots, minced
1/2 cup fennel, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 lb. crimini mushrooms; cleaned and quartered
1/2 lb. oyster mushrooms; cleaned and cut similar in size to crimini
1 pinch thyme, chopped
1 tbsp. Italian parsley, chopped
1/2 cup mascarpone, more if desired


  1. 1
    For Creamy Polenta: In medium saucepan bring water to a boil. While whisking constantly pour in corn meal in a thin stream until all is incorporated. Reduce the heat to low and stir with a wooden spoon for 2 to 3 minutes. Continue cooking for another half hour stirring polenta every 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper, cover with plastic wrap and keep in warm area.
  2. 2
    For Mushroom Ragu: Soak dried Porcini mushrooms in 1/4 cup water, reserve. In large sauté pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and fennel and cook until softened, about 3 minutes, then add garlic and cook for another minute or so. Drain porcini mushrooms, reserving water. Add Porcini, Crimini, and Oyster mushrooms, thyme, parsley, and sauté until mushrooms start to brown. Strain the porcini water into the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Continue to cook until all the mushrooms are tender, adjust the seasonings.
  3. 3
    Per Order: Divide the polenta into four bowls and top each with a large tbsp. of mascarpone. Spread the mushroom ragu over the polenta and top again with remaining mascarpone. Serve immediately.


Recipe Credit: Chef Dean Zanella; 312 Chicago / Chicago; Kimpton Group

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preparation methods
cuisines European, Italian
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