Creamy Ricotta Polenta Topped with Sautéed Mushrooms and Leeks
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 cheese. Here I top it with a springy and flavorful mix of sautéed mushrooms and leeks.
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 and 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!
1 cup whole milk
3 cups chicken stock
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ teaspoon kosher salt, plus additional for seasoning
1 cup polenta (or other medium grind cornmeal, not instant)
2 cups whole milk ricotta
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium leek, thinly sliced, whites only
1½ pounds mixed mushrooms (I used crimini, oyster, shiitake and maiitake)
4 soft boiled eggs
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
In a large saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the milk and chicken stock. Add 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 the olive oil and heat through. Add the garlic and saute for a few seconds then add the leeks and sauce until tender, about 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms and sauté 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.