Michael Chiarello made a fantastic dish on Top Chef Masters. It was a Rabbit and Mushroom Ragu that topped a flavorful polenta. As good as it sounded, I wanted to simplify the dish and make it minus the rabbit. Between the pet rabbit we had and the adorable bunny who munches on my petunias, just not quite in the mood for rabbit! So this version is simply mushroom polenta and it is still divine!
Balsamic Mushrooms with Polenta
For the Balsamic Mushrooms
- 8-12 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Tbsp Bacon or pancetta, diced
- 1 onion, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, pressed or finely chopped
- 1 cup white wine
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
- Grey or Kosher Salt
- Black pepper
For the Polenta
- 1-1/2 cups chicken stock
- 1-1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- Pinch ground white pepper
- 5 tablespoons polenta
- 5 tablespoons semolina
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Fontina cheese
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
To Make the Balsamic Mushrooms:
- Put 2 tbsp olive oil in large skillet over med high heat; add mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until mushrooms are tender and begin to caramelize (approx 15-20 minutes - use a large enough pan as crowding the mushrooms will make them difficult to caramelize)
- Add bacon and onion and cook an additional 5 minutes. Add garlic, stir well, and cook another 5 minutes being careful to not let garlic burn. Add wine and cook until absorbed. Add balsamic vinegar, chicken stock and rosemary. Cook until liquid is reduced by half. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
to Make the Polenta:
- Bring water to a soft boil in medium saucepan. Add 1 tsp. salt and reduce heat to medium, gradually add polenta to pot, about 1/2 cup at a time stirring constantly until totally incorporated into the water. Continue stirring until mixture thickens, about 10 minutes. Stir in olive oil and parmigiano reggiano. Taste and add additional salt if needed.
- Serve Polenta topped with a spoonful of Ragu, garnish with rosemary sprig if desired.
Note: This photo is from the Top Chef Masters series and is the way Chiarello serves the ragu at his restaurant Bottega; they include a parmesan crisp between the layers of the ragu and polenta.