Blue-Corn Polenta with Chile-Mushroom Ragu

Course Appetizer, Main Dish
Cuisine Italian, New Mexican
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 4 to 6 servings


  • 2 cups stoneground blue or yellow cornmeal
  • Kosher salt or sea salt
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 2 slices pancetta diced small (about 1/3 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 ounces crimini mushrooms and/or shiitake caps halved or cut in thick slices
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 3 roasted Hatch poblano or other medium-hot green chiles, cut in 1-inch squares *
  • 1/2 cup quartered yellow grape tomatoes or diced yellow bell pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • Grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano cheese


  1. Combine the cornmeal and 2 teaspoons salt with 3 cups water and the half and half in a medium saucepan. Over medium heat, bring to a boil. Adjust the heat to a gentle simmer. Stir often to keep the cornmeal from sticking. Cook until it reaches the consistency of runny oatmeal and tastes fully cooked, 15 to 25 minutes. Add more water as necessary for the right consistency. Taste and add more salt if needed.
  2. Meanwhile, saute the pancetta in the olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet until lightly browned and most of the fat has liquified. Add the mushrooms and cook until they soften and brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in the wine, chiles, tomatoes and garlic. Reduce the heat and season to taste with salt. Simmer for about 10 minutes until the mixture has a saucy consistency.
  3. To serve, spoon the polenta into shallow soup bowls and tilt to spread over the bottom. Spoon chile-mushroom ragu into the center of each serving and sprinkle with cheese.

Recipe Notes

* To roast chiles: Preheat the oven to 475°F. Spread chiles out on a baking sheet. Cook on a middle rack until deeply bronzed, turning once. Place in a paper bag or covered bowl to steam. When the chiles have cooled, strip off the skins, removing the stems and most of the seeds.