Mushroom ragu with truffled polenta

Mushroom ragu with truffled polenta

A Lot on Her Plate
Helen Cathcart

This wow-factor meat-free supper is so easy to throw together. The dried mushrooms add an intense depth along with the broth you rehydrate them in. To make this totally vegetarian use vegetable stock or water for the polenta, instead of chicken stock.


Quantity Ingredient

Mushroom ragu

Quantity Ingredient
15g dried mushrooms, (porcini, ceps, chanterelle, oriental varieties or, even better, a mix of all)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
3 shallots, diced
knob butter
1-2 sprigs thyme
250g fresh mushrooms, such as chestnut, shiitake, portobello and white – the bigger ones broken into chunks (I use wild when I can find them)
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh tarragon
or 1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon
1/2 medium glass dry white wine
20g flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped, leaves only, plus extra for garnish
dash tarragon vinegar or freshly squeezed lemon juice


Quantity Ingredient
300ml Chicken stock (+ poached chicken breast), (preferably homemade)
generous pinch salt
1 bay leaf
100ml whole milk
80g polenta
1 tablespoon mascarpone or butter
15g parmesan, grated, plus extra to garnish
1 tablespoon good-quality truffle oil
creme fraiche or mascarpone, to serve (optional)


  1. Put the dried mushrooms in a bowl and cover with 30 ml boiling water. Leave them to soak for 10–15 minutes while you prepare the polenta.
  2. Put the chicken stock, salt, bay leaf and milk in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Once it’s boiling, begin to gently whisk and slowly, steadily pour in the polenta until it’s all combined. Turn the heat down to a simmer and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon occasionally, for 30 minutes, or until the polenta has absorbed all the liquid and is creamy and soft (if you’re using quick-cook polenta, remove the pan from the heat 1 minute after you’ve stirred it in). If it’s too thick and not wet enough, just add more water to loosen it – it should be the consistency of runny potato purée. Once cooked and thick and creamy, stir in the mascarpone (or butter), Parmesan and truffle oil, and leave in a warm place until you’re ready to serve.
  3. For the mushroom ragu, heat the oil in a frying pan and add the garlic and shallots, stirring and cooking gently for about 4 minutes until soft and aromatic. Turn up the heat, add the butter and thyme, and start adding the fresh mushrooms, breaking up the bigger ones into the frying pan, coating them in the butter and garlic and onion mixture. Season with salt and pepper and cook the mushrooms for 8–10 minutes until their juices start releasing and evaporating, and they are caramelising and crisping up slightly (to intensify their flavour). Depending on the size of your pan, you may need to do this in batches. When the mixture is fairly dry, add the tarragon, wine, rehydrated mushrooms and mushroom stock (passed through a fine sieve) and cook gently for 10 minutes. Transfer to a metal bowl and check for seasoning, then add the parsley and a dash of vinegar or lemon juice for acidity.
  4. Divide the warm polenta between 2 bowls and top with the mushroom ragu. Garnish with chopped parsley, Parmesan, and if you like, some crème fraîche or mascarpone.
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