Polenta is to northern Italy what bread is to Tuscany, what pasta is to Emilia-Romagna and what rice is to the Veneto: easy to make, hungry to absorb other flavours, and hugely versatile.
A good and serves plenty recipe for a rather quick dinner for busy Christmas people that still want a warm comforting bowl for family and friends after busy days of Christmas prep…I had the short list of ingredients in the house so it was nothing for me to throw together and finish in a short period of time. It took little time to gather and prep the ingredients and I actually sat and reread the recipe to be sure that I had done what I could do until cooking the pasta time.
A creamy, luscious, and filling dish that needs nothing more that a salad to go with if you like. A fancy Mac ‘n cheese indeed.
Notes: I did find good selection of assorted mushrooms already sliced in one package/4 ounces that worked quite well and in large pieces so y mushroom hater could avoid them. Also Virginia baked ham, thinly sliced, is a great substitute and does not give off a heavy smoky flavor to the dish. I did cut the recipe in half and I didn’t have potato flakes and it still all worked. I had all but the taleggio cheese so I had options. Fontina, and havarti or gruyere works just fine.
1 lb. mixed fresh mushrooms (4 small porcini, chanterelles, Chiodini, or Shimeji
3⁄4 lb. long fusilli pasta
1 cup fresh cream
9 oz. taleggio
4 oz. fontina
1 oz. ham, sliced into strips
1 tsp. potato flakes
2 Tbsp. milk
santoreggia or summer savory to taste (substitute with rosemary and thyme)
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
salt – pepper
Clean the mushrooms with a damp cloth. Cut into pieces. Melt the butter in a saucepan until frothy. Add mushrooms and cook for 4-5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Dissolve the potato flakes in the milk and set aside. Dice the taleggio and fontina in 1⁄4” pieces. Add the cream and cheeses to a small saucepan over low heat. Stir constantly until they soften. Add the dissolved potato flake-milk mixture.
Continue to stir until completely melts. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and season with salt. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain and add to the saucepan. Cook for 1-2 minutes over low heat.
Remove from heat. Top with the mushrooms, ham, and santoreggia to taste. Serve immediately.