Mushroom Ragu with fragrant parmesan Polenta ( Gluten Free + vegetarian)

This dish was the star of my Italian feast! Over the course of the past 6 months we have been loving cooking for friends and trying out new recipes on them…some successful moments and some not so successful (Like the time I tried my hand at salt-crust roast lamb at a dinner party, having never done it before! Not my finest hour! But we did enjoy a succulent roast leg of lamb…at 10pm. This is where having a well prepared cheese platter pre dinner is your savior!)….Anyhooo…

On this occasion I wanted a dish that would happily feed a party of 12, including a vegetarian and celiac, on a budget! The colder night meant I couldn’t look past polenta, and I have been intrigued by the variety of mushrooms available at the markets recently so I decided to create a Wild Mushroom Ragu with fragrant polenta.

Mushroom Ragu: can be made early that day and finished off before serving

serves 4 ( I used 2.5kg of mushroom to serve my dinner for 10…this recipe is very flexible)

1.2kg mixed mushrooms
2 shallots, finely sliced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
a few knobs of butter
good red wine
rosemary
thyme
salt
nutmeg

1. Slice all your mushrooms and put to one side ready to go. Melt a knob of butter in a thick based pan (preferably cast iron for good heat distribution) and add the shallots, rosemary and thyme – saute for a few minutes stirring with a wooden spoon until the shallots are white and soft.

2. Add 3/4 of your mushrooms to the pot, increase the heat, add a good splash of red wine and sweat the mushrooms until they go soft. Once they start to release there mushroomy juices it is time to reduce the heat, place a lid on the pot and allow all those flavours to merge together into a rich and wonderful ragu. Cook on low for about 15min, now you can either proceed onto the next step or turn the heat off and let the ragu sit until you are ready to finish it off for your fancy dinner party….’i just don’t know how she manages to pull together such a gorgeous meal with no fuss’…If only they knew!

3. Remove the lid from the pot of goerous simmering Ragu, add the remainder of your mushrooms and increase the heat so that the mushroom stock reduces whilst par cooking the added mushrooms. This is a good trick to know, as having a slight textural difference in the mushrooms throughout the ragu will give the dish the added body it needs. Season with a touch of salt, pepper and nutmeg ( just a touch) and you are ready to serve alongside your creamy polenta<3

I garnish this dish with Enoki mushrooms, rocket and shaved parmesan! Great texture, a bit of green and some cheesy goodness 🙂

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For the Polenta

Serves 4 (I multiplied this recipe * 3 to make for my party of 10…enough for leftovers)

450ml milk
Thyme and lemon peel
Salt and freshly ground pepper
170g coarse or instant polenta
40g finely grated parmesan
20g butter, plus an extra knob

Pour 450ml water into a pan with the milk. Bring to a simmer and add some salt, thyme and lemon peel. Simmer for 10min on low then sieve the ingredients out. Next, cook the polenta as described by your packet instructions using the infused milk, as different brands/coarseness of polenta cook at different times and with varying amounts of liquid.

Once the polenta is cooked, stir through the parmesan and butter for a creamy fragrant polenta to accompany the Ragu!

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