1 lb. shiitake and/or oyster mushrooms – cleaned, stemmed & either chopped, sliced, or quartered (however you prefer)
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
7 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp. chopped fresh oregano leaves
3/4 cup diced tomatoes
1/2 Tbsp. tomato paste – optional
2 – 3 cups mushroom, vegetable, or chicken stock
1-1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1/2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
2 cups of whole milk
a pinch of ground mace
7/8 cup stone-ground polenta or course cornmeal
1/4 cup mascarpone or cream cheese
1/2 cup plus extra for garnish parmesan or Friesago cheese
1 Tbsp. chives
The Mushroom Ragout
Place a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat, and add the olive oil and 2 Tbsp of butter. When the butter begins to foam, add the diced onion and sauté until translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the mushrooms and another 3 tablespoons of butter and cook, stirring often, until they have released most of their liquid, about 10 minutes.
Add the thyme, oregano, diced tomatoes, tomato paste if desired, and 1 cup of stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has reduced and the ragout has thickened, about 20 minutes. You can add another 1/4 cup or so of stock if the ragout seems to need it. Season with the salt and pepper, and stir in the parsley.
The Creamy Polenta
Combine the 2 cups milk, 1 cup stock, 2 tablespoons butter, remaining salt, remaining pepper, and mace in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil on high heat. Whisk in the polenta and stir continuously until the mixture begins to thicken. Then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring frequently, for 30 minutes, or until the polenta is creamy and tender and starts to pull away from the sides of the pan. You can add up to another 1/2 cup of stock if the polenta seems to need more cooking and doesn’t feel creamy enough yet. When it’s cooked to the consistency you like, add the cheeses and stir to blend. Remove from the heat and stir for 3 minutes to cool the polenta.
Divide the Creamy Polenta among four to six shallow bowls, and top with mushroom ragout. Garnish with the parmesan and chives, and serve hot.
adapted from Emeril Lagasse’s “Farm to Fork.”