As Taylor Swift would say, creamy polenta has a big reputation. Known as a dish that takes constant babysitting in the form of tedious stirring, I avoiding trying to master it because I assumed it took too much work. Not skill, just work. But with one simple trick, this creamy polenta with sauteed mushrooms comes together with minimal stirring, and is so dang cozy and comforting it’ll become an instant favorite!
Darn if I don’t love polenta. I’m a fan of corn in pretty much all its forms, and since polenta is basically corn risotto (another thing I love), well, it’s at the top of my corn-loving list. Summer corn is my absolute favorite, so the colder months is where polenta really gets its chance to shine. Topping it with umami-rich mushrooms is pretty much a perfect way to guarantee deliciousness.
As I previously mentioned, polenta has a reputation. All over town you hear people talk about how you have to stir it constantly or it will be lumpy. Frankly, this sounded like a pain in the you know what to me, so I just decided that I’d only eat it at restaurants. Problem solved, right? Well, not so fast. All winter long I’d been craving polenta topped with mushrooms after seeing a recipe for it that called for baking it in the oven. I was skeptical of this oven method, but decided there had to be a way to master it on the stovetop that didn’t cause my forearm to give out from whisking, and I’m glad I persevered.
The secret to creamy stovetop polenta is stirring right when you add the polenta to the liquid. It takes about 3 minutes of stirring, but that’s it! Then you can walk away, checking and stirring periodically, but not babysitting the dang thing the whole time. You slowly whisk in the polenta to the simmering liquid, taking your time, then you whisk until the liquid is all absorbed. I like to say that when it stops looking like cereal, aka you can no longer see the individual polenta grains floating in the liquid, but rather all of them seem to have come together and the liquid is just absorbed enough, then you can stop stirring.
The mushrooms, well, those are easy. God bless mushrooms for having so much flavor and needing effort so little for them to taste just divine. I kept these simple, but you can season them in whatever manner you like. My oven roasted mushrooms are another good option here, and free up a stovetop burner in case that’s helpful.
I hope you enjoy this creamy polenta with sauteed mushrooms. If you make the dish, please let me know and tag me in your creations!
Creamy polenta topped with sauteed mushrooms makes the coziest of weeknight meals. What’s more, it’s perfect for meatless Monday!
For the polenta:
- 1 cup polenta or yellow cornmeal
- 1 cup half and half (replace with water if dairy-free/whole30/paleo)
- 3 cups water
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon butter or ghee
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
- Black pepper
For the mushrooms:
- 1 lb mushrooms, cleaned and quartered (I like baby bellas)
- 1/3 cup finely chopped shallot or onion
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce or coconut aminos
- 2 teaspoons aged balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
- Kosher salt to taste
- 2 tablespoons butter or ghee
- Prepare the sauteed mushrooms by heating the butter or ghee in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and melt down until soft, about 3 minutes
- Add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt and cook until mushrooms have released all their juices, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes
- Add the soy sauce/aminos, balsamic vinegar and fresh thyme and stir to coat.Check for seasoning and add salt as needed
- While the mushrooms cook down, heat the water and half in half in a saucepan over medium heat until just starting to simmer. Add in the kosher salt
- Slowly (and I mean slowly), pour in the polenta, whisking constantly. Whisk about 3-4 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed and the polenta has started to come together
- Cover the pot, leaving the lid cracked just a bit, reduce heat to low, and let simmer for 20-25 minutes, until the polenta no longer tastes raw, stirring every 5 minutes or so
- Add in the butter and Parmesan cheese (if using), and check for seasoning. Add in fresh black pepper to taste
- Serve polenta immediately, scooping some into a bowl and topping with the mushroom mixture. Garnish with more Parmesan if desired
Keywords: polenta, stovetop, creamy polenta, sauteed mushrooms