Baked Polenta with Mushrooms

Food & Wine
In the time it takes to heat up frozen lasagna, you can make a from-scratch layered polenta dish that's every bit as satisfying. It needs nothing more than a simple green salad as an accompaniment.


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4 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups coarse or medium cornmeal
3 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 teaspoon dried sage
7 tablespoons grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 pounds mushrooms, sliced thin
1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
6 ounces fontina, grated (about 1 1/2 cups)


1. Heat the oven to 350°. In a medium saucepan, bring the water and 1 teaspoon of the salt to a boil. Add the cornmeal in a slow stream, whisking. Whisk in 1 tablespoon of the oil and 1/4 teaspoon of the sage. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until very thick, about 20 minutes. Stir in 3 tablespoons of the Parmesan.

2. Meanwhile, butter an 8-by-12-inch baking dish. In a large frying pan, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter with 1 tablespoon of the oil over moderately high heat. Add half the mushrooms, 1/4 teaspoon each of the salt and sage, and 1/8 teaspoon of the pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms are golden, about 5 minutes. Remove. Repeat with the remaining mushrooms, 1 tablespoon each butter and oil, 1/4 teaspoon each salt and sage, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.

3. Pour half the polenta into the baking dish and spread in an even layer. Top with half the mushrooms, followed by half of the fontina and 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan. Repeat with the remaining polenta, mushrooms, fontina, and Parmesan. Bake until the cheese is bubbling, about 15 minutes.

Wine Recommendation: To contrast with the cheese here, look for a wine with both good acidity and well-delineated fruit flavors. The earthy red-berry flavors and refreshing tartness of a Bourgogne Rouge, the basic red wine of Burgundy, will be perfect.

Created date

June 2004