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Polenta alla Griglia con Ragù di Funghi

EATALY MAGAZINE (November 30, 2016)
This alpine recipe for grilled polenta and hearty mushrooms is designed to warm you down to your toes after an exhilarating day in the cold winter air.

COURSE: Primo Piatto
DIFFICULTY: Medium
PREPARATION TIME: 45 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

1 cup polenta
½ ounce dried porcini mushrooms
2½ pounds yellowfoot mushrooms, trimmed into ¼-inch-wide slices
6 medium shallots
1 cup minced yellow onion
3 cups vegetable broth
Leaves of 3 sprigs fresh thyme, minced
Leaves of 1 sprig fresh rosemary, minced
1 sprig fresh sage with 4 big leaves, minced
1/3 cup tomato paste
1 cup dry Marsala wine
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Salt & freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
Minced parsley, for finishing

In a medium saucepan, bring 8 cups of salted water to a boil. Very slowly, begin to sift the cornmeal into the pan through the fingers of one hand, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or spatula. Gradually sift all the cornmeal into the pan while stirring, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Continue to stir constantly until the polenta is smooth, thick, and pulls away from the sides of the pan as it is stirred, about 8 minutes with the Valsugana Instant Polenta.

Pour the polenta onto a wooden board to form a rectangle about ¾ inch high. Smooth the top with the spatula, and allow to cool completely.

Soak the porcini in warm water until soft, about 20 minutes. Squeeze the soaked porcini, and slice them into ¼-inch-wide pieces. Strain the soaking water through a cheesecloth or coffee filter into a bowl. Keep this mushroom water warm.

Place the olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat. When the butter has melted, add the shallots and onions. Season lightly with salt, and stir to combine. Slowly raise the heat until the onions are sizzling, and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft and shiny but not browned, about 6 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring the broth to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce the heat to a simmer.

Add the dried and fresh mushrooms to the skillet with the onions, and toss to combine. Sprinkle with a small amount of additional salt; add the thyme, rosemary, and sage; toss briefly, raising the heat a bit; and cover the skillet. Cook, covered, until the mushrooms give up their liquid, about 3 minutes (tip: shake the skillet now and then to move the mushrooms). Uncover the skillet, and continue to cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, as the mushrooms shrink and the liquid evaporates, about 5 more minutes. When the liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms begin to brown, clear a spot in the pan, drop in the tomato paste, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. When the vegetable mixture is sizzling and browning again, add the wine to the skillet. Stir constantly as the wine thickens and evaporates.

When the mushrooms start sticking to the bottom of the pan, add the warm mushroom water and about 2 cups of hot broth. Bring to an active boil, stirring up any caramelized bits on the bottom of the pan. Lower the heat to keep the sauce bubbling gently all over the surface, and cover the skillet. Cook for about 20 minutes, occasionally stirring and adding small amounts of broth to keep the mushrooms nearly covered with liquid; you may not need all the broth. Adjust the heat to keep the sauce at a steady immer, but not boiling rapidly.

Uncover the skillet and cook, maintaining the simmer and adding broth (if you run out of broth, use water), until the mushrooms are thoroughly tender and the sauce is thick but still pourable, about 20 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

When the ragù is almost ready, put the polenta into rectangles or triangles, brush lightly with olive oil, and place on a hot grill pan, turning once with tongs, until the grilled polenta crisp and seared with grill marks, 4 to 5 minutes per side.

To plate the dish, place the grilled polenta on individual serving plates, top with the warm ragù, sprinkle on the minced parsley, and serve.

Buon appetito!

This recipe was first published courtesy of Eataly Magazine.

Find the original recipe here.

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