True this can be served with pasta, but if you remember my Eggs Benedict Italiano, I occasionally like to use Polenta as a foundation for things. This is surprisingly hearty for a dish lacking meat. My guess is that the Parmegiano-Reggiano in the polenta is at least partially responsible, it is high in glutamates (those umami activators that make things savory).
You can use the 3 minute polenta if you prefer, I use 1 cup "instant" to 2 cups of stock... It will be a little thicker, but your going to chill it to set anyway.
Parmigiano-Reggiano Crusted Polenta with Mushroom Ragú
2 cups Vegetable Stock
Pinch of Salt
1 cup Polenta
2 TB Unsalted Butter
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano; Divided
1 oz Dried Porcini Mushrooms (1 pkg)
10 oz Cremini Mushrooms (AKA: Italian Brown or “Baby Bellas”)
6 oz Assorted Wild Mushrooms (Wood Ear, King Bolete, Lobster, King Oyster, Chanterelle, or more Cremini)
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive oil
1 Leek; chopped
1 Shallot; chopped
3 Garlic Cloves; minced
1 Bay leaf
2 tsp Fresh Thyme; chopped
2 tsp Fresh Oregano; chopped
1/2 cup Flat-Leaf Parlsey, finely chopped
1 TB Balsamic Vinegar
Bring Stock and Salt to a simmer and slowly sprinkle the Polenta over the surface, stirring constantly.
Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring often, for 15-18 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in Butter and 3/4 cup of the Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Pour into a greased 9x9 square baking pan and smooth the mixture.
Refrigerate while making the Mushroom Ragú
Soak your porcini mushrooms in 1/2 cup Boiling water for 10 minutes.
Drain them, but reserve 1/3 of the liquid, and dry the mushrooms.
Thick slice the Creminis and coarsely chop the Wild Mushrooms. (multiple textures to the ragú)
Heat 1/3 cup of the oil in a sauté pan and add all the mushrooms.
Cook for 4-5 minutes then remove from pan and set aside.
Add the remaining oil to the pan and sauté shallot and leeks for 2 minutes.
Add the reserved mushroom soak liquid, garlic, bay leaf, thyme and oregano and bring everything back to a simmer (About 2 minutes)
Return the Mushroom mixture to the sauté pan along with Parsley and Balsamic Vinegar and continue cooking for another 2 minutes.
Add a pinch of salt (I like Alder Smoked) and remove the Bay leaf.
Remove from heat, cover and set aside.
Remove Polenta from refrigerator and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Place pan under the broiler for about 10 minutes (until the cheese is melted and lightly browned)
Cut the Polenta slab into squares and Plate with Mushroom Ragú over the top.