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Portobello Polenta with Wine and Figs

(recipe, Alex Davis, Diana Ellis, Andy Remeis)


Meaty portobello mushrooms, red wine, and figs combine to make a velvety sauce for layering with soft polenta. A sprinkling of Gorgonzola cheese adds richness. The polenta is prepared in the oven instead of on the stovetop, which is a real time-saver — no stirring!


    1. 3 Tbsp. olive oil
    2. 2 large onions, sliced
    3. ¼ cup minced garlic
    4. 8 portobello mushroom caps, sliced
    5. 1 lb. crimini mushrooms, sliced
    6. 2½ cups port wine, or 2½ cups dry red wine plus ¼ cup brown sugar
    7. ½ lb. dried Mission figs, stemmed and halved lengthwise
    8. 1 tsp. vanilla extract
    9. 1 strip (1 inch by 2 inches) orange peel
    10. 3 Tbsp. minced fresh rosemary leaves
    11. 2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
    12. Salt and pepper to taste
    1. 2 tsp. olive oil
    2. 12 cups milk or water
    3. 3 cups medium-coarse polenta
    4. 1 Tbsp. salt
    5. 1 cup Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled


    1. Make the sauce: In a large sauté pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add onions and sauté until caramelized, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 2 more minutes. Add mushrooms and cook 10 minutes over high heat, stirring occasionally.
    2. Simmer the wine, figs, vanilla, and orange peel in a separate saucepan for 10 minutes, until the figs are plump. Discard orange peel. Add fig-and-wine mixture to the mushroom sauce and keep warm until polenta is cooked. (Sauce and mushrooms may be prepared up to this point ahead of time, refrigerated and then reheated while cooking polenta.)
    3. Make the polenta: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Coat two 10- or 12-inch ovenproof skillets (or a 9-by-13-inch baking dish) with olive oil. The larger the skillet you choose, the shorter the cooking time will be.
    4. Pour half of the milk or water, polenta, and salt into each skillet. Place both skillets into the oven and cook, uncovered, for 25 minutes, stirring once during cooking. The polenta is done when the milk or water is absorbed and the grains are thick but not too stiff.
    5. Just before the polenta has finished cooking, add the rosemary, vinegar, salt, and pepper to the sauce, then remove the sauce from the heat.
    6. Use polenta from one skillet to create a thin layer in the bottom of each co-op serving dish. Spoon half of the mushroom sauce in an even layer on top of the polenta. Top with the remaining polenta from the second skillet and the rest of the mushroom sauce. Sprinkle the cheese on top of each dish.