Beef and Mushroom Ragu over Fried Polenta

This Beef and Mushroom Ragu is filled with delicious and robust flavor, thanks to San Marzano tomatoes, a massive amount of garlic, and both fresh and dried herbs.

We’re two weeks into the school year and things are actually going pretty smoothly.

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I love it! By the time September rolls around, I’m ready for the 6am wake up and all those hours a day of doing whatever the heck I want. In silence. And I’ll happily trade being a taxi driver from 3 p.m. until whenever just to have from 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. all to myself.

I get a ton more work done (and sometimes reading and coffee sipping) during those coveted school hours. PLUS my girls are older (middle and highschool – *cries*) so lunch packing is no longer my job. #fistbump

I honestly don’t know what I get more excited for, back-to-school or Christmas morning. Or wait, there’s also hunting season and dinnertime!? *steeples fingers* How does one choose? All are equally exciting!

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Speaking of dinner, this gorgeous plate of food is my latest and greatest cozy dinner creation. Meat sauce, sure it doesn’t sound that thrilling but this ragu is brimming with flavor, thanks to San Marzano tomatoes, a massive amount of garlic, and both fresh and dried herbs. It tastes like something my Italian grandmother would make, if I actually had an Italian grandmother.

Stop buying those jarred pasta sauces, this ragu is all you need.

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Beef and Mushroom Ragu. Let’s talk about it. Ragu is meat sauce that is traditionally served over cooked pasta. It can also be served over pasta or spaghetti squash, but why be basic? Try spooning it onto crispy, pan-fried polenta and prepare to fall head over heels. I love pasta, but maybe polenta a little more so. It’s such a nice change up!

This ragu starts off just like any sauce does. First sauté onions and garlic together in olive oil, then season it with Italian seasoning (I make my own!). Then add in ground beef, breaking it up into small crumbles. Next stir in sliced mushrooms and crushed San Marzano tomatoes. Cover and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes. It’s done when the aroma of something resembling heaven permeates the air.

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I make polenta just like I do in this recipe (in case you need a visual). Then I pour it into a foil-lined and buttered rimmed 1/4 sheet pan and let it cool. This is something you can make the night before or the morning of. You could probably make this 2 days in advance if you wanted to. I really think time in the fridge not only helps to set the polenta but also cold polenta keeps together better when frying.

Now because I was photographing it for the blog, I made a double batch so that I could cut cute, little rounds out of it. Normally I’m not so high maintenance and I make a single batch and just cut them into squares. Either way you slice’em (tee hee) you want and fry them, smooth side down first, in a little olive oil in a non-stick skillet until browned and crispy.

With that said, working in batches, I will transfer the fried polenta rounds to a paper towel lined plate and continuing with the remaining. Strapped for time? You could always buy package or two of prepared polenta at the store. Just slice 1/2 an inch or so thick rounds. No one will judge. Swear.

Creamy polenta is delicious on its own but fried is just out of this world amazing!

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Serve a few of the fried polenta rounds on a plate and then top with a couple generous spoonfuls of the mushroom ragu. Lastly, sprinkle a pinch of red pepper flakes, freshly crumbled Parmesan cheese and a few extra basil leaves over top.

Unbelievably delicious.

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Robust mushroom ragu, crispy polenta and a glass of Malbec is all I need to ring in this school year.

Enjoy! And if you give this Beef + Mushroom Ragu recipe a try, let me know! Snap a photo and tag me on twitter or instagram!

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My cookbook Simply Scratch : 120 Wholesome Homemade Recipes Made Easy is now available! CLICK HERE for details and THANK YOU in advance!

Yield: 6 servings

Beef + Mushroom Ragu over Fried Polenta

Beef + Mushroom Ragu over Fried Polenta
Crispy fried polenta topped with a hearty and robust sauce of ground beef, mushrooms and herbs.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes

Ingredients

FOR THE POLENTA:

  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup grits
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper

FOR THE BEEF AND MUSHROOM RAGU:

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 cup diced yellow onion
  • 5 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 2 pounds ground beef (I use a combination of 1 lb. chuck and sirloin each)
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning*
  • 1 (28 ounce) can San Marzano whole tomatoes, pulsed in a food processor until slightly chunky
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 8 ounces sliced mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil, plus more for serving
  • Parmesan cheese, for serving
  • red pepper flakes, for serving (optional)

Instructions

FOR THE POLENTA:

I like to prepare the polenta the day before and then fry them up while the sauce is simmering.

Line a small rimmed baking sheet with foil and grease with butter.

Bring the milk and broth to a simmer, stirring often to avoid scorching. Once bubble start to form around the edge of the pan, whisk in the polenta, salt and pepper.

Reduce heat to medium, whisking continuously until thick. About 5 minutes or so.

Pour polenta into the prepared pan, smooth with a spatula and let cool and firm up. If making this advance, stop at this point. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

When ready to serve, cut into squares or stamp out circles (may need to double the batch if using a biscuit cutter) with a biscuit cutter.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Once the oil is shimmering, place the polenta, smooth side down, into the oil of the pan. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, or until golden and crispy. Flip and repeat, then transfer to a paper towel lined plate and repeat with remaining polenta.

Simply Scratch Tip: This is something I have done the night before or the morning of, heck you could make this 2 days in advance if you wanted to. I really think time in the fridge not only helps to set the polenta but also cold polenta keeps together better when frying.

FOR THE BEEF AND MUSHROOM RAGU:

Heat a teaspoon of oil over medium heat in a large, deep-sided skillet.

Add the onion and a small pinch of salt and cook until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add in the garlic and cook for 1 minute.

Next add in the ground beef and cook until no longer pink, then drain off the fat. Add in Italian seasoning and both of the tomato sauces, salt, pepper, sugar and mushrooms. Stir and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover and continue simmering for 20-25 minutes.

Stir in the chopped fresh parsley and basil right before serving.

Serve crispy polenta with a few spoonfuls of the beef and mushroom ragu over top. Sprinkle with crumbled Parmesan, pepper flakes and a few fresh basil leaves.

Notes

*You can find my recipe for homemade Italian seasoning in my cookbook.

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6 Responses to “Beef and Mushroom Ragu over Fried Polenta”

  1. #
    1
    Amy | The Cook Report — September 14, 2016 at 4:40 am

    Every time I’ve tried to do polenta like this it’s ended up turning into a squidgy mess in the pan but this looks so good I might have to try it again!

    • Laurie McNamara replied: — September 14th, 2016 @ 7:51 am

      Hi Amy! I really do think chilled polenta works best when pan frying, that and a hot pan ;). Please let me know if you give it another go and how it turned out for you!

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    2
    David Emanuele — September 14, 2016 at 8:12 am

    You don’t mention in the recipe when to cook the beef. At what point do you add it to the ragu?

    • Laurie McNamara replied: — September 14th, 2016 @ 11:41 am

      Sorry about that David! Add it in after you’ve cooked the garlic. I’ve updated the instructions, sorry for the inconvenience!

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    3
    Marina — September 16, 2016 at 11:33 am

    I am so making this — not quite fallish around here yet, but first evening that is cool enough, this is going down!!

    • Laurie McNamara replied: — September 20th, 2016 @ 9:51 am

      Nice!! Let me know what you think of it after you make it! Thanks Marina!

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