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Beef + Mushroom Ragu over Fried Polenta

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Crispy fried polenta topped with a hearty and robust sauce of ground beef, mushrooms and herbs.
Course Mains & Entrees
Cuisine Italian
Keyword beef, Italian, mushroom, polenta, red sauce
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Servings 6 servings
Calories 539
Author Laurie McNamara



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


  • 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
  • 6 tablespoons Parmesan cheese for serving
  • red pepper flakes for serving (optional)



  • 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.


  • 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.


Serving: 1g | Calories: 539kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 32g | Fat: 33g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 14g | Trans Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 111mg | Sodium: 877mg | Potassium: 718mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 183IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 120mg | Iron: 4mg