Cooking Our Favorite Restaurant Dishes at Home

A recent dinner at West Village Italian spot Ama left Gothamist swooning over a clay pot of creamy, soft polenta topped with a ground sausage ragu. In thinking about making this dish at home, Gothamist was reminded about the earthy, luxurious yet simple mushroom polenta at L'Impero.

Unable to decide which version to make for this week's Eating In, Gothamist just decided to make a version combining Ama's sausage and L'Impero's mushrooms. Less isn't more in this case.

Gothamist experimented with the soft polenta by adding a bit of buttermilk to the recipe, which provides a subtle twang to the creamy, rich corn meal.

Gothamist Recipe

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Creamy Buttermilk Polenta
rosemary sautéed mushrooms and spicy sausage

It’s important to serve the polenta piping hot or it hardens and changes consistency. Cook it at the last minute, but you can also continue to add liquid to keep the consistency a bit runny while reheating.

Ingredient Shopping List
Recipe serves two people.

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 lemon
3 tblsp unsalted butter
2 cups chicken stock (veg ok)
1 pint buttermilk
1 pint half and half
1 cup polenta (ground yellow corn meal)
Parmigiano Reggiano
Fresh Rosemary
¼ lb shitake or cremini mushrooms (any mushroom OK, really)
¾ lb hot Italian sausage

Estimated cost of ingredients: $20 at Fairway

Brown the Sausage

In a large non-stick skillet heat a small glug of olive oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and brown sausage, both sides. Add a couple tblsps water and cover turning until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Remove lid and cook mixture until any remaining water is evaporated. Transfer sausage to a bowl and drain fat remaining in pan – keep the pan for later. Cool sausages slightly and slice diagonally.

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Sautee the Mushrooms
Wipe off the mushrooms with a damp paper towel. If using shitakes, take off stems and slice into thirds. If using criminis, remove stem and slice in half. Chop one clove of garlic finely. Remove rosemary from two stems and chop finely.

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In the pan you made the sausage, bring pan to medium-high heat, add a tblsp olive oil and 1 tblsp butter. When butter is frothing, add the mushrooms, season with salt, pepper and about 1 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary and saute until mushrooms begin to release their liquid, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add the chopped garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add about ¼ cup of stock and simmer. Cook until the mushrooms are tender, about 3-5 more minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

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Make the Polenta
Grate about 1 cup parm cheese.

In a medium sized sauce pot combine 1 cup stock, 1 cup buttermilk and 1 cup half and half to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and slowly pour in the polenta while whisking constantly. Cook the mixture for at least 4 or 5 minutes, stirring until thickened and cooked. Add 1 tblsp butter, the grated cheese and a squeeze of lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Serve right away while piping hot or let rest and bring back to heat with a touch more of the half and half or stock to make thinner and runnier.

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Finish the Dish

Bring the mushrooms and sausage into the same pan and reheat. Add a touch of half and half in the pan and deglaze the pan. This will also help develop a bit of a sauce. Also add a squeeze of lemon juice. Warm your plates, this will help keep the polenta at temp while eating. Place the polenta on plate, add your sauce and mushrooms on top. Drizzle with a really nice EV olive oil and serve right away.

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