Wait – I thought Ragu was Italian for “marinara”?
Despite the brand name of mediocre marinara that may have you thinking otherwise, ragu isn’t necessarily a red sauce. It’s more a generic term for meat sauce. Bolognese is also ragu alla Bolognese. I’m sure many towns in Italy have their own variation and yes, many of them are red but it’s not a requirement.
For the meat my ragu, I went with chorizo. I love cooking with chorizo because the sausage is already spiced so it does the majority of the work for you. I also love pairing chorizo with earthy things like Asiago and, in this case, mushrooms! This is actually a meat-filled variation of a buttery mushroom ragu I’ve made before. So if you’re a vegetarian, just use more mushrooms!
I decided to pair this with polenta because I’ve never made polenta before. For some reason, it has a reputation of being finicky. In reality, it is not. I didn’t even have to go buy dried “polenta” anywhere. I simply found my cardboard tube of yellow cornmeal and boiled it. Yes, yes, you add butter and cheese and you could probably even splash some cream in there so it’s silky and creamy. The nuts and bolts of it, however, is boiled cornmeal. 1 part cornmeal to 4 parts water. The only tricky part is to make sure you boil it long enough so it loses its “grit.”
- 4 cups water
- 1 cup yellow cornmeal
- 4 tbsp butter
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan
- 1/2 pound chorizo out of its casing
- 1 1/2 pounds mixed mushrooms, using cremini, white button, shitake or anything else you like sliced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 3/4 cup white wine
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme
- 1 tbsp butter
- grated parmesan for garnish
Boil the water and butter and slowly whisk in the cornmeal with a little salt to taste. Continue to whisk until the cornmeal has incorporated into the water and thickened. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and cook 30-40 minutes, until it's no longer gritty.
Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the chorizo until cooked through. Then add the garlic and mushrooms and continue to cook until the mushrooms are wilted and starting to brown. Stir in the wine and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Take off the heat and stir in the butter.
Serve over the creamy polenta and garnish with more grated parmesan.
Non-game substitution: Any chorizo will be great!
Vegetarian substitution: You can make a perfectly lovely ragu with just the mushrooms. If you do this, add a few more mushrooms and use more butter and cheese.