Mushroom Pancetta Ragu with Polenta is a hearty meal that can be ready in as little as 30 minutes. This recipe makes for a perfect meal when a quick weeknight dinner or some weekend comfort food is needed. Meaty mushrooms get a real flavor boost from a wonderful combination of pancetta, fresh herbs and red wine.

A white bowl of mushroom pancetta ragu served over polenta

The heartiness and richness of the mushrooms, cooked in red wine and beef stock pairs perfectly with the creaminess that polenta is known for, which, in my opinion, is truly a winning combination.

You’ve probably seen the name spelled ragu or ragout, but what is the difference? Simply put, ragu is Italian and ragout is French. This recipe has more of an Italian flare than French one and is mushroom-based versus the traditional which are meat-based.

A spoonful of mushroom ragu

When it comes to herbs that pair well with mushrooms, I always choose either fresh rosemary or fresh sage. For this dish, I chose rosemary, which also makes for a complementary and delicious flavor with the added basil. 

If you like the flavor combination of sage and mushrooms, you’ll love my Brown Butter Sage Mushroom Risotto recipe.

Vegan option

This is not a meat-free dish, however it can be. Simply leave out the pancetta and substitute the beef stock for vegetable stock. It’ll still make for a delicious meal.

If you’re a steak lover and want to take it to the next level, this ragu also makes a delicious steak topping for a truly restaurant-style vibe.

Viewed from overhead showing the sliced mushrooms, fresh herbs and juices

Considering how the flavors complement each other, the polenta does play a big part in this dish. As I mentioned, the creaminess of the polenta offsets the richness of the ragu but I also think it’s a texture thing too; velvety and smooth. If you’re not a polenta fan, you can easily substitute mashed potato or even cooked pasta.

A pan of freshly cooked mushrooms with pancetta.

Another great serving suggestion that turns an ordinary baked potato into something extraordinary is topping the potato with the mushrooms ragu. You can cook the potato in the microwave while you make the mushrooms. The cooking instructions for the potato are in my recipe for Microwave Baked Potato with Italian Sausage.

If you’ve made this Mushroom Pancetta Ragu with Polenta or any other recipe, please leave a comment below. I love to hear from my readers.

Yield: 4

Mushroom Pancetta Ragu with Polenta

Creamy polenta is served topped with meaty mushroom pancetta ragu

Meaty mushrooms and pancetta are cooked with garlic, herbs wine and beef broth served over creamy polenta.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil plus more if needed
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup (6 ounces/114 grams) pancetta, chopped * see note
  • 1 1/2 pounds (680 grams) mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup (81 grams) shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves finely chopped or grated
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, roughly torn
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup (78 ml) good red wine
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) beef stock
  • For the polenta:
  • 3 ½ cups (448 grams) low sodium or unsalted chicken stock/broth
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (220 grams) yellow cornmeal, medium or fine grind
  • 1 cup (89 grams) Parmesan cheese, grated

Instructions

  1. For the ragu:
  2. To a large, 12-inch (30 cm) sauce pan add the oil and butter over medium heat. When the butter is melted and bubbly add the pancetta and mushrooms. Cook stirring often until they have reduced and in size and cooked down a little, about 5 minutes.
    Add the shallot and more oil if needed and stir well cooking for a further 2 minutes. Add the garlic, basil, rosemary, half of the salt and pepper and tomato paste, mix well. Cook until any liquid is gone.
    Add the wine and simmer until the mushrooms have absorbed most of the wine. Stir in the vegetable stock and simmer until most of the liquid is absorbed. Test for salt and add the rest or season accordingly, this will depend on how salty your stock is.
    While the mushrooms cook, make the polenta.
  3. For the polenta:
  4. In a medium saucepan, heat the chicken stock and salt (taste your stock, if it is salty, adjust the salt amount, remember you are also adding salty cheese) bring to a simmer. Add the yellow cornmeal while whisking until combined and there are no lumps.
    Cook at a very low simmer whisking until smooth and thickened. If the polenta thickens too soon, add a little more stock or water. Stir in the Parmesan cheese.
  5. Place some polenta in the center of a plate and top with the mushroom ragu.


Notes

You can substitute with any unsmoked pork. If you used smoked bacon, it will change the flavor.

Nutrition Information

Yield

4

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 352Total Fat 23gSaturated Fat 9gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 12gCholesterol 43mgSodium 1243mgCarbohydrates 28gFiber 3gSugar 2gProtein 8g

This nutrition calculation is provided by Nutronix that is only a guideline and not intended for any particular diet.