Mario’s Polenta con Funghi

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Ever since high school, I’ve dreamed about the mushroom and polenta dish my mom’s Italian boyfriend, Mario, used to make. It was unlike anything I’d tried before and most likely played a part in my decision to head to Italy for my junior year abroad. When I called Mario to ask where he got the recipe, he unfortunately couldn’t remember, but it likely came from someone in his family. His mother Rosa is Sicilian, but his Aunt Bianca, from Trieste, was apparently the better cook. Considering I’ve tried Rosa’s cooking and it was delicious each time, that’s pretty hard to believe. During our conversation, Mario mentioned that he didn’t begin cooking until he moved to the United States. When asked why not, he replied that in Italy most men never saw the inside of a kitchen. Boy am I lucky that’s not the case in this house! 🙂 Mille grazie Mario for a delicious recipe!

1 1/2 cups beef or veggie stock
1/4 cup dried porcini mushrooms
1 1/2 lbs. crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 large onion, diced
2 cups roma tomatoes, peeled and diced
2/3 cup dry white wine
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. fresh oregano
1 1/2 – 2 tbsp. fresh rosemary
Dash of red pepper flakes
Fresh basil
Salt and pepper
Fresh parmesan, grated
Polenta (plus stock and parmesan per instructions)

Cover the dried mushrooms with warm stock and let sit for 15 minutes. Strain the stock and rinse mushroom clean. Chop and set aside. Meanwhile, sauté the chopped onion in olive oil until translucent. Add the garlic and stir for a few minutes more. Add the tomatoes and cook on the highest heat until the tomatoes release their juices. Add the herbs and remove from heat.

In another pan, sauté the mushrooms in butter and olive oil until golden brown. Add in the chopped porcini mushrooms and remove from heat. Add the wine to the tomato sauce and cook for 15 minutes. Add the stock and mushroom mixture and cook on low for 40-45 minutes.

For the polenta, be sure to get the type you cook yourself as it’s super easy and the pre-made stuff just doesn’t cut it. The polenta is ready in just a few minutes and depending on your mood, you can serve it slightly creamy, in thick slices, or in cookie cutter shapes. The world is your polenta.


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