This dish is perfect vegetarian comfort food, filled with wine, cheese, and mushrooms. Perfect to warm up a frozen Shabbat. I used an Instant Pot because my house is still being renovated, but you can definitely do it on your stovetop. I would make the mushrooms first, then the sauce and polenta last. Mushrooms and sauce can be made ahead of time, but polenta is best before it sits around too long, so I would do it right before Shabbat and then just layer the dish together, starting with the polenta, then the sauce and topping with beautiful truffled mushrooms.
Truffled Mushrooms in White Wine
4 cups mushrooms (I did a mix of shiitake and a petite baby bells, but whatever you love will work)
2 tablespoons truffle butter
A splash of olive oil
1 cup of bright white wine ( Sauvignon Blanc or Vinho Verde work well)
Half a tablespoon of dry or fresh thyme
Salt to taste
Drizzle olive oil in your pan, or use the saute function on your Instant Pot. You want to cook the mushrooms in batches, so they brown instead of steam. Bloom the thyme in the warm oil until fragrant, about a minute or so, and then add mushrooms. Brown the mushrooms for about 4 minutes, then add half the wine and simmer. Repeat with the second batch of mushrooms. Finally, toss all the mushrooms together and finish with two tablespoons of truffle butter. Yum. Your house is gonna smell so good. Cook until mushrooms are tender and then set aside. Don’t wash that pot, use it for tomato sauce to keep building flavor. Also, I hate doing the dishes.
Fennel and Garlic Tomato Sauce
1 whole bulb garlic, peeled and chopped
Half a bulb fennel diced with fronds reserved
One small onion diced
1 ⅓ cup of white wine( Just use the same bottle from the mushrooms!)
8 cups of crushed tomatoes ( or 2 medium-sized cans)
1 can of tomato paste
Salt and pepper
Saute the onion, fennel, and garlic in a drizzle of olive oil over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes until soft and then turn the heat up to high. When the fennel has started to brown and caramelize, add 1/3 cup of wine and deglaze. Let simmer for a few more minutes, until the aromatics are tender and taste of wine. Pour in a few glugs of olive oil, approximately ¼ a cup, the rest of the wine, and the crushed tomatoes. Turn your Instant Pot to pressure cook and set for 15 minutes. Let it release naturally, no manual release. If not using an instant pot, let simmer for about an hour. Thicken your sauce with a can of tomato paste, and adjust the seasoning, I usually add a couple of cracks of black pepper and a tablespoon or two of salt. Stir together and simmer for about ten more minutes until it is rich, thick, and delicious.
Note that this recipe makes way more sauce than you need for the dish. This is useful if your kid refused to even try polenta because you can throw it on some pasta. It also freezes well.
Creamy Fontina Polenta
1 teaspoon garlic salt
3 ½ cups water
1 cup polenta
half cup heavy cream
1 cup shredded fontina
1 cup tablespoons of parmesan
2 tablespoons of butter
Salt to taste
In your Instant Pot, whisk together water, cream, garlic salt, and polenta. Turn pot to saute function, whisking occasionally. Once the polenta is simmering, whisk again, then cover and pressure cook for 9 minutes. After 9 minutes, release manually. Remove the lid and whisk again. Yum, the house smells like sweet corn! You only need to whisk for about 3 minutes, just ensuring to remove any lumps and ensuring it’s creamy and smooth. Now finish with butter and all of the cheese! Stir until butter is melted and cheese is melted and smooth.
Ladle polenta into a deep bowl. Make a little well in the center and pour in tomato sauce. Top with mushrooms. Garnish with parmesan cheese and chopped fennel fronds and parsley.