Why It Works
- A properly cooked, creamy polenta makes perfectly spoonable layers that soak up the mushroom sauce.
- Lots of Parmesan, in both grated form and in a rich cream, add an extra level of decadence.
In Italian, a pasticcio is a mess. In the case of polenta pasticciata, it's a glorious, wonderful, rib-sticking mess, made by layering soft polenta with lasagna-like fillings, then baking it until browned on top. Here, we fill it with a rich mushroom ragù, then drizzle a cheesy Parmesan cream all over it.
Preheat oven to 350°F. In a small saucepan, heat heavy cream over medium heat until simmering. Lower heat to medium-low and cook, stirring often to prevent scorching, until cream is reduced by half, about 15 minutes. Whisk in 2 ounces grated parmesan cheese until melted. Cover and set aside.
In a medium (roughly 2-quart) baking dish, spread a thin, even layer of polenta. Top with a small amount of the remaining grated Parmesan. Spoon half of the ragù on top in an even layer and drizzle with about 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cream.
Gently spread another even layer of polenta on top of ragù, covering it completely, then top with more grated Parmesan and the rest of the ragù. Drizzle 2 more tablespoons Parmesan cream on top. Spread a final thin layer of polenta on top, dot with butter and top with more grated Parmesan.
Bake polenta lasagna until heated throughout and golden on top, about 20 minutes. Let stand until cooled slightly so that the polenta sets a little, about 20 minutes. Reheat remaining parmesan cream, thinning with a little water if necessary, and serve polenta lasagna, spooning Parmesan cream on top.
Medium baking dish (about 2-quart capacity)
The exact quantity of polenta and mushroom sauce you need will depend on the size of the baking dish you use; it's possible you may have a small amount of polenta and/or mushroom sauce left over. This recipe calls for a half recipe of the mushroom ragù, but I recommend making the full batch, since it'll leave you with leftovers that you can freeze for future meals.