The following recipe is from the July 22 edition of our weekly recipe newsletter. To receive this newsletter in your inbox, sign up!
One might expect that a New Orleans-based chef like Emeril Lagasse is a big meat eater, but one of the most surprising things about his new book Farm to Fork is that the recipes are almost entirely vegetarian. There are few game and seafood recipes mixed in, but the bulk of the book is devoted to meat-free eating, vegetable dishes so satisfying you barely realize you're eating a vegetarian meal.
This Wild Mushroom Ragout over Creamy Polenta struck me immediately as a must-make due to it's striking similarity to one of my all time favorite vegetarian meals: the wild mushrooms served over creamy polenta from Al Di La in Brooklyn. The mushrooms are simmered with a mix of aromatics and herbs, tomatoes both diced and in paste form, and a stock of your choice—mushroom or vegetable or a veal or chicken stock. The mushrooms braise and release their earthy flavors making the sauce deep and rich, and an ideal topping for some of the creamiest polenta around.
The polenta recipe is for all of you out there who wonder why the polenta that you make at home is never quite as good as the polenta served in restaurants. There are a few secrets in there, all involving plenty of delicious dairy. Mascarpone, Parmigiano-Reggiano, butter, and whole milk make sure that this polenta is wonderfully creamy and rich with cheesy flavor.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup diced onions
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 2 pounds wild mushrooms, cleaned, stemmed, and quartered
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano leaves
- 1 cup petite diced canned chopped tomatoes, with juices
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 cups mushroom, chicken, or veal stock, or canned low- sodium chicken broth
- 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves
- Creamy Polenta (recipe follows)
- 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
- 4 cups whole milk
- 2 cups chicken stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable stock
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon ground mace
- 1 3/4 cups stone-ground polenta (coarse cornmeal)
- 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 1/2 cup mascarpone or cream cheese
Place a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat, and add the olive oil and the butter. When the butter begins to foam, add the diced onions and sauté until translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until they have released most of their liquid, about 10 minutes.
Add the thyme, oregano, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, and stock, and 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. Season with the salt and pepper, and stir in the parsley.
Divide the Creamy Polenta among four to six shallow bowls, and top with the mushroom ragout. Garnish with the Parmesan and chives, and serve hot.
Combine the milk, chicken stock, butter, salt, white pepper, and mace in a large saucepan, and bring to a boil over 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.
Add the Parmesan and the mascarpone, and stir to blend. Remove from the heat and stir for 3 minutes to cool the polenta.
Serve immediately or keep warm until ready to use. (Leftover polenta is easily reheated in a small saucepan with a little water or milk to soften it.)