A few weeks back I was contacted by Merchant Gourmet to see if I was interested in entering a competition by coming up with a recipe using their quick cook polenta. The whole recipe (including preparation time) had to be less than 20 minutes. Polenta is a traditional Italian ground maize (corse cornmeal) which usually takes 45 minutes of constant stirring. For this reason I have never cooked polenta. Merchant gourmet quick cook polenta, cooks in only 1 minute so is much more accessible for a week night supper. I have to admit I have never eaten polenta before so I can not comment on how quick cook compares to traditional polenta.
I decided to cook a simple version of a traditional northern Italian dish – Polenta with mushroom ragu. This was indeed on the table within 20 minutes and is a simple vegetarian meal with lots of flavour. I could also see it working well as a side dish with say a steak or lamb chops if you wanted a more substantial/meaty dish.
Quick cook polenta with mushroom ragu
120g Merchant gourmet quick cook polenta
530ml vegetable stock
1 shallot, finelly diced
2 cloves of garlic, finely diced
1/2 tsp dried thyme
250g Chestnut mushrooms (or your favorite type of mushroom), sliced
knob of butter
1/2 cup grated parmesan
- Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the onion and fry over a low heat until softned (around 5 minutes). Add the garlic and thyme, stir to combine and fry for a further 1-2 minutes.
- Mean while bring the vegetable stock to the boil in a medium saucepan.
- Once the onions have softened add the mushrooms to the frying pan and turn up the heat to medium. Fry for a further 5 minutes stirring frequently. Once the mushrooms are cooked they will have darkened and shrunk in size. At this point add around 50mls of the vegetable stock and reduce the heat to low. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add the polenta to the stock in a thin, steady stream, stirring with a wooden spoon or whisk. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
- Add the butter and parmesan and stir through to combine.
- Serve the polenta in bowls, making a well in the centre with a wood spoon. Spoon the mushroom ragu into the well. Serve immediately.