Grilled Bacon and Mushroom Ragu on Polenta

At House of Q we like heart-warming, comfort foods. From time to time that comfort is provided with a creamy base of corn polenta and a saucy topping. Today and the focus of this recipe, it is…

Bacon and Mushroom Ragu on top of Creamed Polenta

We started using our Blackstone griddle to make sandwiches, eggs, pancakes and all the usual suspects but wanted to explore another favorite dish that we enjoy in our house. The dish is a creamy polenta with a flavorful and rich “topping” to bring it all together. We make polenta fairly regularly however it begs for a topping of some nature. We’ve made quite a few variations of this dish including many that were vegetarian. Meanwhile, how can you resist a dish with bacon?

Ingredients:

Serves 2 people

Ragu

2 thick slices bacon, cubed
1-2 TB olive or vegetable oil
1/4-1/3 onion, diced
2-4 cloves garlic, crushed, diced
6-10 mushrooms, diced
1 TB tomato paste
1/2-3/4 cup beef, chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 cup red wine (optional – if used, use less stock)
2-3 ts House of Q Gusto D’Italia Premium Seasoning
1 ts thyme (optional)

Polenta

1 L chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup milk (optional for a creamier polenta)
1 cup polenta
2 TB butter
1/4-1/2 cup asiago or parmesan cheese

Method:

To start, place the stock and optional milk in a pot that has a lid. Place on the grill on medium heat with the lid on. Once boiling, add the polenta and stir or whisk to blend. Reduce the heat to low and continue cooking stirring every few minutes. The total cook time for the polenta will be about 20 to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, pour the oil on the preheated grill and add the onion, mushrooms and bacon. (You can also make this in a skillet on you grill) Stir so that the onions get soft and the bacon renders. Once the bacon is starting to become tighter and release some moisture, add the garlic, thyme (optional) and Gusto D’Italia seasoning. Stir to mix.

Stir the polenta.

Add the tomato paste to the bacon, mushroom and onion mixture. Make sure all the pieces are coated with the paste. Add a couple of tablespoons of the stock and stir the mixture to incorporate the liquid. Between the tomato paste being thick and the stock, the ragu should now start to create a “saucy” texture.

Don’t forget to stir your polenta.

Add more stock to the tomato mixture and mix with your spatula. Keep doing this until the onions are soft, the bacon is fully cooked, the mushrooms cooked through and the ragu has become saucy. Check for seasoning and add more salt and pepper or even more Gusto D’Italia.

Your polenta should now be close to being thoroughly cooked and becoming thick and a bit creamy. Add the butter and stir in to incorporate. This will provide a nice texture for the polenta. Add the cheese and like the butter, mix to incorporate into polenta. Remove from the heat and keep covered. Polenta can become thick quickly as it continues to absorb moisture. If yours gets too thick, add some more stock or water and mix in.

To bring this all together, put a scoop or two of the polenta in a bowl then top with a scoop of the ragu. Add some fresh ground pepper or even more grated cheese and enjoy.

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