Polenta-Style Grits with Wild Mushroom Ragout

Cooked yellow cornmeal, known as “polenta,” is still poured directly onto the center of the wooden table (tavola) in some farmhouses in Italy. It is then topped with a stew or ragout, and family members draw whatever portion they want from the common “pot.”

Serves: 4Hands-on: 45 minutesTotal: 45 minutesDifficulty: Medium

Serves: 4


  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup polenta (or corn grits)
  • 1 lb. assorted mushrooms, sliced
  • 8 Tbsp. butter, cut into small pieces, divided
  • 1¾ tsp. salt, divided
  • ¼ small lemon
  • 2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme or ½ tsp. dried thyme
  • 2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary or ½ tsp. dried rosemary
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped Italian (flat-leaf) parsley


  • Bring 3 cups broth to a boil, then stir in the polenta in a steady stream. Lower flame, and set to simmer very slowly, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Cook for 30 minutes until thickened.
  • Heat a heavy skillet over a high flame until very hot, then add the mushrooms to the dry pan. Toss in half of the butter, and allow it to melt under the mushrooms without shaking the pan (this helps them brown) for 2–3 minutes.
  • Add ¼ teaspoon salt, a squeeze of lemon, the thyme and rosemary, and stir. Add the cream to the mushrooms. Simmer 1 or 2 minutes, then set aside, covered.
  • Finish the polenta by stirring in the remaining butter, grated cheese, remaining salt. A wooden spoon should stand up in the finished polenta.
  • To serve, portion the polenta onto 4 appetizer plates, make a depression on top of each portion, and spoon ¼ of the mushroom sauté onto each. Top with fresh ground black pepper and a sprinkling of chopped parsley.