Mushroom Ragu with Polenta & Fried Egg

We like to eat as many vegetables as possible, but when the weather begins to turn colder it is often meat filled stews and soups that I turn to.  Luckily stews and vegetables do not have to be mutually exclusive. A dense, hearty mushroom ragu is a great way of adding vegetables to your winter recipe repertoire.

A ragu is traditionally made by adding meat to a softened mixture of onions, celery, carrots and seasonings, and then adding tomatoes before simmering until the mixture is thick. In this case we replace beef or veal with woody, earthy mushrooms, maintaining the heavy, hearty flavor or a stew without the fatty meat.

Combine this ragu with creamy polenta and a crispy fried egg, soft, runny yolk and all, and you have a delicious winter ready dinner.

Mushroom Ragu with Polenta & Fried Egg (serves 4)

1/2 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, diced
1 carrot, chopped
1 tsp oregano
1 tbsp thyme
1 tbsp rosemary
2 bay leaves
1 cup marsala wine
1 oz dried chanterelle mushrooms
1 lb oyster mushrooms
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 28 oz can whole tomatoes
2 tbsp EVOO
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup polenta
4 cups milk or vegetable broth
4 eggs

In a small bowl pour 2 cups of warm water over the dried mushrooms. Let sit for 30 minutes or until soft. Drain the mushrooms reserving the liquid. Rinse mushrooms of grit and set aside.

On medium high heat warm 2 tbsp of EVOO. Add the onion, carrot and garlic, cooking until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and marsala wine and cook until the liquid has evaporated. Add the chili powder, thyme, rosemary, oregano, bay leaves and reserved mushroom liquid. Bring to a boil. Add the canned tomatoes (including their liquid) and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to simmer and cook until the tomatoes begin to break apart and the mixture reduces, about 30 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

When the ragu is ready, bring 4 cups of milk or vegetable broth to a simmer. Add 1 cup of polenta, stirring constantly, until thickened, adding salt and pepper to taste.

Last but not least, quickly fry 4 eggs, leaving the yolks soft and runny. No explanation necessary.

When you are ready to compile the dish, plate the ragu on top of the polenta and then top with a single fried egg. Salt and pepper to taste and eat immediately.