Wild Mushroom Ragout with Soft Polenta

Spring in Calgary is often bone-chillingly cold, and we still look for food that warms and soothes, filling your kitchen with the rich scent of the forest, along with that hint of the spring we long for. Fresh wild mushroom season is still a few weeks away, but dried wild mushrooms fill the void until our native ’shrooms show their shaggy heads.

Dried chanterelle and porcini are readily available, and if you can find dried morels then rush to use them, their intense flavour is sensational. I like to use a mixture of cultivated mushrooms too, for a variety of texture and taste.

The Italians have always known how to cook and eat mushrooms, and a classic pairing is this wild mushroom ragout with soft polenta.

Wild Mushroom Ragout with Soft Polenta

Servings 4
Author Janey Bevan


Mushroom Ragout

  • 1 oz dried wild mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 5 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 lb mixed mushrooms, (chestnut, shiitake and oyster), sliced
  • 4 oz white wine
  • 4 oz vegetable stock
  • 2 oz heavy cream
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • 32 oz water
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 8 oz instant polenta
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 5 sprigs of thyme, leaves picked off the stem
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper



  • Soak the dried mushrooms in 1 cup of boiling water for 20 minutes.
  • Melt the butter in a large frying pan and sauté the shallots for five minutes over medium heat, until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and thyme and cook for another 30 seconds.
  • Add sliced fresh mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and continue to cook over a medium heat until soft.
  • Drain the soaked dried mushrooms (reserving the soaking liquid) and add them to the pan.
  • Pour in the white wine, turn the heat to high and cook until the wine has evaporated.
  • Pour in the stock and reserved mushroom soaking liquid and cook again until the liquid has evaporated.
  • Turn the heat to medium, fish out thyme which will have given up their leaves, and add the cream, letting it bubble for a minute or two.
    Set the pan aside in a warm place.


  • Bring the water to a rolling boil with a teaspoon of salt and the butter. Pour the polenta into the boiling water in a steady stream, stirring constantly. Turn the heat down and stir for another minute or two until the polenta comes away from the sides of the pan.
  • Stir in the Parmesan cheese and season to taste.
  • Warm the mushroom mixture, pour the polenta into a large serving dish, tip the mushroom ragout over the polenta and garnish with thyme leaves.