Mushrooms, sausage ragu with polenta, doesn’t sound perfect comfort fall food? Of course, there are so many versions of ragu, but most of them all have some meat as a base. This is my own version that I created reminiscing of my grandmother cooking.
She loved to make polenta, and living in Piemonte, northern region of Italy, she made it often. Obviously, years ago the commodity to having instant polenta was not available to her, thus she would literally spend 45 minutes stirring this huge pot of boiling steaming polenta. It sure was a chore of love but the result was a tender, full of flavor polenta that she served with this to die for ragu with fresh porcini mushrooms that she collected in the woods. I have the greatest memories of picking mushrooms with my grandmother and her cousin.
Fast forward to today, the convenience of instant polenta is available and in less than 10 minutes it is ready. The fresh porcini mushrooms are replaced with dry soaked in hot water to re-hydrate. For this recipe, I decide to use a mix of dry and fresh and only sausage meat. Great combination. But as I mentioned early on, any meats will do.
Polenta is a very temperamental dish to prepare even though it takes no ingredients per se, all the work resides on the cooking process. My suggestion to you is to dedicate your full attention to it as you can easily burn yourself due to splatter. Therefore here are a few suggestions or tips to prepare polenta stress-free.
~ Once the water is boiling pour slowly the dry polenta into the boiling water as you vigorously whisk with the other hand. Or better yet, have someone help you if you feel uncomfortable doing so. Why you may ask? You do not want lumps in your polenta which are very easy to form.
~ Switch from a whisk to a spatula and continue stirring vigorously paying attention to the splatter. Polenta is a great splatterer. Lower the heat to simmer to maintain the cooking process, while continuing to stir.
~ Never take your eyes off the polenta and never stop stirring. The success of this dish is in the constant stirring which allows you to cook it easier, faster, and lumps free. Once thickened, taste to season.
Warm-up leftover polenta sliced in a skillet. You can serve it with the remaining ragu, or melted butter with loads of parmesan cheese or pecorino. I am doing it in my grandmother’s way: with warm milk.
Mushrooms, Sausage Ragu with Polenta
Amount Per Serving
Calories 551Calories from Fat 216
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 7g44%
Vitamin C 22mg27%
Vitamin A 4189IU84%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
In a heavy large enamel cast iron pot heat the olive oil the garlic over medium heat. Once the garlic is brown, but not burned, remove and discard.
Add the onions, parsley, and carrots and mix well. When the onions are translucent add the sausage meat, pancetta, and separate well with the back of a wooden spoon. Add the tomato paste and mix well.
Cook the meats until all the liquid is evaporated.
Add the bay leaves, red wine, chopped porcini mushrooms, Chinese mushrooms half of the strained mushrooms liquid. Mix well.
Add the tomatoes, salt, pepper. Mix well, lower the heat to simmer, cover and cook stirring occasionally for 1 hour to 1 ½ hour. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper to your liking. Add more wine if too dry. Cook uncovered for another 30 minutes.
Remove the bay leaves before serving.
TO MAKE POLENTA
Bring the water to a boil. Gradually add the polenta and whisking vigorously to prevents lumps. Change to a wooden spoon and continue to stir until it becomes thicker, around 6 minutes.
Remove the polenta from the heat and place on a plate or platter. Add the mushrooms ragu over it. Sprinkle a very generous amount of parmesan cheese over it.