I followed the suggestion to make a double portion as it was advertised by Daniel Gritzer of seriouseats.com as an epic vegetarian sauce. The prep work alone for making a double batch of mushroom ragù was monumental alright: almost 1.8kg / 4 lbs of mixed fresh mushrooms, rehydrated dried porcini combined, some herbs as well as serious amounts of onions, spring onion, garlic, and carrots.

When I made this dish, it was insanely busy at work, so just chopping away and stirring in pots – watching the mushroom slowly caramelize and turn into a delicious sauce and seeing the polenta come together – for several hours really was a much needed zen moment for me.

In this recipe, you are supposed to make it like a lasagna, with the creamy polenta doubling as lasagna sheet layers and béchamel sauce. I made the polenta with a mix of water, milk, and stock for maximum flavor – and although creamy and silky smooth, we are not a huge fan.

Perhaps that the quantities were off while doubling the recipe, but there was relatively a lot of polenta compared to the mushroom ragù. Therefore, it resulted in a thick top layer with a density of approx: 4×1017 kg/m3 (but that was because I made it ahead and put it in the fridge). The solution was easy: we lifted the polenta “tile” and devoured the rest.

It must be said, the mushroom ragù was genuinely fantastic: slow cooking the mushrooms and vegetables with just some white wine and chopped tomatoes creates a remarkably complex and rich, almost “beefy” sauce. Therefore, I’d recommend it as a proper veggie substitute for a ragù bolognese.

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