Apr 14, 2017

Creamy Ricotta Polenta with Sautéed Mushrooms and Leeks

Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 40 mins
Creamy Italian polenta with ricotta served topped with a springy and flavorful mix of sautéed mushrooms, leeks and a jammy 6-minute soft-boiled egg.

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If you’ve had polenta before then you know that it’s an Italian porridge made with a type of cornmeal. Once boiled it is often fried or baked. It’s creamy, delicious and of course I usually add ricotta cheese. Here I top it with a springy and flavorful mix of sautéed mushrooms and leeks for a comforting and filling vegetarian meal.

Creamy Ricotta Polenta Topped with Sautéed Mushrooms and Leeks

What is Polenta?

The first time that I attempted to make polenta I stood in the middle of the aisle staring at the assortment of grains. I thought polenta was pretty common and yet none of the packages explicitly stated “polenta” or “you can make polenta with this”.

As usual, Google saved the day. A quick search told me that the difference between cornmeal and grits and polenta is pretty slim so if you want, you can just use medium or coarse ground cornmeal and call it a day. But if you really want to know the difference between grits and polenta, then you will find that the it is in the type of corn that is used and how fine the grind.

Polenta is made with a variety of corn called “flint,” which contains a hard starch center. Grits can be made from dried and ground corn but it’s typically made from hominy – corn kernels that are dried and treated with lime and coarsely ground. Ok it’s still a bit confusing but at least I tried!

Key Ingredients in This Recipe

  • Polenta – Look for high-quality, stone-ground cornmeal. Be patient and give the polenta time to cook to develop the rich corn flavor.
  • Chicken stock – Chicken stock is typically made from chicken bones as well as aromatics and vegetables while chicken broth is made with the meat. How does that affect their flavor? Chicken stock has a much richer, more robust flavor which comes from the collagen released from the simmering bones. On the other hand, chicken broth is much more mellow in flavor. I typically use chicken stock when cooking. In a pinch the chicken stock can be substituted with water though it takes away some of the flavor.
  • Mushrooms – In this recipe I use a mix of mushrooms to create a more varied, earthy topping for the polenta. I sauté chanterelles, oyster, and shiitake mushrooms though any mix and match can be used based on availability. The key to cooking mushrooms is to be sure not to overcrowd the pan. Make the mushrooms in batches if needed.
  • Leeks – Leeks are a part of the allium family and add a more mild, sweeter taste than onions.
  • Egg – A soft-boiled egg is the perfect topping for this polenta. Soft-boil an egg for 6 minutes to obtain the perfect jammy consistency. Peel under cold running water so the shell removes from the egg more easily. The gooey egg yolk mixes well in to the creamy polenta. A fried over-easy egg works well in this recipe too.
  • Ricotta – Be sure to use whole milk ricotta for this, as the extra butter fat creates the best texture.

 

Creamy Italian polenta with ricotta topped with a springy and flavorful mix of sautéed mushrooms, leeks and a jammy 6-minute soft-boiled egg

How to Make Creamy Ricotta Polenta

  1. Make the polenta. In a large saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the milk and chicken stock. Add 4 tablespoons of the butter and salt and bring to a boil. Slowly whisk in the polenta and cook, whisking constantly, until it begins to thicken.
  2. Simmer polenta. Lower heat to medium-low and continue to cook the mixture, stirring occasionally, until the polenta becomes thick, about 20 minutes. Stir in the ricotta and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Sauté leeks. Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and heat through. Add the shallots and leeks and sauté until tender. Remove the leeks mixture to a medium mixing bowl and return the pan to heat.
  4. Sauté shallots. Add the remaining olive oil and heat through then add the remaining butter and allow to melt. Add the mushrooms and thyme, sautéing until browned, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Serve. Divide the creamy ricotta polenta among warmed bowls and top with mushrooms and leeks, egg and garnish with parsley and chives.
Creamy Ricotta Polenta with Roasted Mushrooms and Leeks-25.jpg

Other Recipes to Try

If you enjoy this ricotta polenta recipe, I recommend checking out some of these:

 

Creamy Ricotta Polenta Topped with Sautéed Mushrooms and Leeks

Print Pin
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, plus additional for seasoning
  • 1 cup polenta, or other medium grind cornmeal, not instant
  • cups whole milk ricotta
  • Freshly ground black pepper, as needed
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium leek, thinly sliced, whites only
  • pounds mixed mushrooms, I used chanterelles, oyster, and shiitake, sliced
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 4 soft boiled eggs
  • 1 tablespoon chopped chives
  • Handful flat-leaf parsley leaves

Instructions:

  • In a large saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the milk and chicken stock. Add 4 tablespoons of the butter and salt and bring to a boil. Slowly whisk in the polenta and cook, whisking constantly, until it begins to thicken, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Lower heat to medium-low and continue to cook the mixture, stirring occasionally, until the polenta becomes thick, about 20 minutes. Stir in the ricotta and season with salt and pepper.
  • Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and heat through. Add the shallots and leeks and sauté until tender, about 4 minutes. Remove the leeks mixture to a medium mixing bowl and return the pan to heat.
  • Add the remaining olive oil and heat through then add the remaining butter and allow to melt. Add the mushrooms and thyme, sautéing until browned, stirring occasionally, about 6 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Divide the polenta among warmed bowls and top with mushrooms and leeks, egg and garnish with parsley and chives.

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