Creamy Polenta with Veal-Porcini Mushroom Ragu
Makes 6 servings.
For the Veal-Porcini Mushroom Ragu:
1/2 oz. dried porcini mushrooms
3 cups hot water
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 sweet onion, cut into 1/2 inch dice
3 carrots, diced
2 celery ribs, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
Two 3/4 lb. veal shanks (about 1-1/2 inches thick), cut into 2 inch pieces, bones reserved
Gf flour for dusting
1 cup dry red wine
One 14oz. can peeled Italian tomatoes, crushed by hand
1 marjoram sprig, plus about 1-1/2 teaspoons chopped marjoram
1 bay leaf
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the Creamy Polenta:
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup onions, finely chopped
4 cups water
1 cup yellow cornmeal
2 tablespoons to 1/2 cup grated parmesan
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Make the Ragu:
In a large measuring cup, soak the porcini mushrooms in the hot water until softened, about 15 minutes. Remove the hydrated mushrooms with a slotted spoon, squeezing out the excess liquid back into the cup (reserve the soaking liquid). Chop the mushrooms.
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, celery and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally until softened, about 5 minutes. Transfer vegetables to a plate.
Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the saucepan. Season the veal pieces with salt and pepper and dust with gf flour. Add the meat and bones to the saucepan and cook over medium high heat, turning once, until browned, about 10 minutes. Add the wine and cook, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan, until liquid is nearly evaporated, about 5 minutes.
Return the vegetables to the saucepan. Add the tomatoes, marjoram sprig, chopped porcini, bay leaf and tomato paste. Slowly pour in the reserved procini liquid, stopping when you reach the grit. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bring to a boil; cover and simmer for 2 hours or until the meat is very tender. Discard the bones and stir in the chopped marjoram. Adjust seasonings to taste again, if needed, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Make the polenta:
In a large saucepan melt butter over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in 3 cups of water and bring to a boil.
In a separate bowl, stir together remaining cup of water and cornmeal; gradually stir into boiling water. Reduce heat to low, and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until cornmeal is very thick and leaves side of pan as it is stirred, about 25 minutes. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and salt (to taste).
To serve, spoon the polenta into shallow bowls and top with Veal-Porcini Mushroom Ragu. Serve immediately.