Office Eats (4): Polenta Bites with Mushroom Ragu

Photo by Justin Janowitz

Before we return to our regularly scheduled programming, I’d like to share with you the final (yes, sadly, final) episode of Office Eats that I filmed for Relativity Media’s YouTube channel, Coin. In this episode, I featured a crisp polenta bite topped with a savory and quick mushroom ragu that’s perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. In fact, I ate the leftovers the following morning for breakfast, topped with a poached egg!

On the morning of shoot day, as the crew was setting up (read: taking over my kitchen and dining room), producer Hayley and I discussed the menu for the day. I knew I had chosen a tasty menu when the crew stopped what they were doing just to pay close attention to my list. As we filmed each episode, I could see the crew licking their lips behind the camera in anticipation of chowing down on the fruits of our labor. And sure enough, the minute the camera stopped rolling, the crew went to town on these eats. But I noticed that one member of the crew, our beloved Director of Photography, Justin Janowitz, was painstakingly showing some serious restraint.

All set to film the segment.
All set to film the segment.

Justin had recently switched to a gluten-free diet to manage his intolerance to gluten, and watching us cook and then eat this food very much tempted him to forget about the discomfort that was sure to follow even a single bite. By the time we shot the third episode, I realized Justin’s predicament, and with my polenta bites with mushroom ragu in mind, I promised Justin that he’d have something tasty to eat soon enough.

Now, as we know, filming cooking segments for YouTube channels is not something I do everyday, and I was, in fact, a little nervous to be in front of the camera. So, I made a point to silence my fear with the fun I have while cooking. Only, while fixing up my mushroom ragu, I had a little too much fun, and without even thinking, added a whole tablespoon of flour to the dish I had just promised Justin he could try. Fortunately for me, the editors did not use the take showing the look of horror on my face when I realized what I had done. And fortunately for Justin, once I removed my foot from my mouth and the egg on my face, we found plenty of food for him to enjoy, as well.

And for all my Gluten-Free readers and friends, here’s a tip: the flour is totally optional. I use it to thicken my ragu, but there are lots of alternatives out there that can accomplish the same task.

Thanks to the good folks at Coin for helping me achieve this little goal of mine. It sure was a blast!

Click here to watch my last episode of Office Eats.

Polenta Bites with Mushroom Ragu
Recipe type: Snack
Serves: 4-6
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
A quick and easy vegetarian-friendly dish that's perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil, divided
  • 2 Tbs. butter, divided
  • ½ cup red onions, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pint crimini mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 1 pint oyster mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • kosher salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 1-2 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 1 Tbs. flour (*Optional)
  • 1 log prepared polenta, cut into rounds
  • freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 Tbs. Italian Parsley
  1. In a medium saute pan, add 1 Tbs. of olive oil and 1 Tbs. of butter, and place over medium heat.
  2. Add in the red onions and garlic, and saute until onions soften. Add the mushrooms, stir to combine, and continue sauteing until mushrooms have wilted a bit (about 3 minutes). After the mushrooms have cooked down a bit, add a good pinch of kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, and the leaves from the sprig of thyme.
  3. Stir in the white wine and the flour, and then turn the heat to low. Let simmer until the mixture thickens to desired consistency (5-10 minutes).
  4. Meanwhile, In a separate saute pan, heat 1 Tbs. olive oil and 1 Tbs. of butter. Once the oil and butter are heated through, add the rounds of polenta, and cook for 2-3 minutes per side.
  5. Remove the rounds of polenta, place them on a plate or platter, and immediately sprinkle freshly grated parmesan cheese.
  6. Top the rounds with a spoonful of mushroom ragu, sprinkle with Italian parsley, and serve.


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4 Replies to “Office Eats (4): Polenta Bites with Mushroom Ragu”

  1. Hahah. I had forgotten about that moment when you added the flour. Although I couldn’t eat most of it, all of the food you prepared looked incredibly delicious. Thanks for opening your kitchen (and your home) to us for the shoot.

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