Saturday, November 20, 2010

Cornmeal + Marscapone + Mushrooms = YUM

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Let me just start by saying that Aaron had never had polenta until we were at Disney on our honeymoon. He had it served with a braised lamb shank and it was incredible.

He absolutely loved the polenta and I promised I would make it at home sometime, not making any promises to a) make it taste exactly like the 5-star restaurant did and b) to serve it under a braised lamb shank.

Thus last night's tasty dinner was born!

Mushroom Tomato Ragout with Soft Cheesy Polenta

Ingredients for Ragout

- 1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 medium red onion, finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
- 12 oz. mushrooms (you can use any type - button, cremini, portobello, etc.)
- 30 oz. diced tomatoes
- salt and pepper
- 1 tsp. dried thyme

Instructions for Ragout

Heat olive oil in a large dutch oven and saute the onions until just lightly browned, stirring often (4-5 minutes), then add in the garlic - sauteing for about 2 minutes.

2. Add the balsamic and let it simmer on low, reducing slightly for about 5 minutes. It really infuses that great balsamic flavor into the aromatics. Next you want to add in the mushrooms and raise the temp to medium-high heat. Cook the mushrooms until they've just softened and have started to given off their juices, then add the thyme.

3. Once the mushrooms are softened add the tomatoes and cook until the mixture is thick and bubbling - about 10/15 minutes.

Soft Cheesy Polenta

- 2 cups water
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 cup yellow cornmeal
- 2 oz. Mascarpone cheese
- 1/8 cup Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- salt and pepper


In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the water and milk to boil. Slowly stir in the cornmeal, whisking constantly as you add it in to keep the polenta lump-free. *I don't have many photos of this process because it took both hands and I accidentally boiled the milk mixture over once before I got it right!

2. Cook, stirring constantly for 15 minutes. Stir in the Mascarpone cheese and the cream, then season with salt and pepper and remove from heat.

When you're done, serve it up and top it with the ragout. It is a surprisingly hearty and really flavorful meal that's perfect for this time of year!

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