I made this as the second main dish of the Boston GTG, since I had already made two pesto lasagnes and didn't want another pasta dish. It was unexpectedly delicious, and people enjoyed it. But hey, throw mushrooms and cheese onto mud, it'd probably taste good, right? Great party dish.
Polenta and Mushroom Lasagna
First, make your Mushroom Ragu--
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 1/2 lb mixed mushrooms, sliced (I use a combo of white mushrooms, shitakes, and portobellos)
1/4 cup dried porcinis, put to soften in 1 cup hot water
6 cloves garlic
2 large cans diced Italian plum tomatoes
1/4 cup red wine
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbs. butter.
In a large pot, heat the oil. Toss in the fresh mushrooms, and cook until they release their liquid. Let almost begin to brown. Meanwhile, take out the dried porcini from the soaking liquid (save that liquid!) and chop. Add to the pan with the garlic, and saute just a few minutes. Strain the porcini liquid through cheesecloth to remove any grit. Pour the wine and porcini liquid into the pan, and then the tomatoes. Let gently simmer uncovered for at least an hour. At the end, stir in the butter, taste and add salt and pepper. Refrigerate until needed.
Now, the Polenta--
Into a large pot, pour 6 cups water and 1 1/2 cups polenta. Stir in 1 1/2 tsp. salt. Put into a 400 oven, and turn the heat down to 350 after 15 minutes. Start checking the polenta after another 15 minutes, giving a stir every now and then. When the polenta is thick and the grains are creamy, remove from oven. Stir in 4 Tbs. butter and 1/2 cup grated parmesean. Add salt and pepper if needed.
Have a large, deep, buttered lasagne dish ready; along with
a cup of shredded mozzerella (the decent stuff, but not necessarily the really good buffala),
a cup chopped fontina, and
a cup freshly grated parmesean.
Coat the bottom of the pan with a thin layer of the ragu. You can make 2 or 3 layers, depending on the size of your pan. I only did two, since my pan was enormous.
Pour a (half or) third of the polenta into the buttered pan. Cover with a thick layer of the ragu, and then dot with a third of the cheese. Repeat two more times, ending with cheese. Can be refrigerated at this point. About 30 minutes before serving, put into a 375 oven until bubbling. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving. Dish out with a spatula or large serving spoon, as the polenta will be rather soft when hot. It firms up as it cools, and then can be sliced into neater squares.