Rich wild boar ragu with parmesan polenta and gremolata

Let’s face it,  you just can’t beat a good old ragu! Comforting, rich and warming, it really is the perfect choice for a hearty meal so get cooking. To balance the richness of the ragu I made a gremolata to serve with it to add an extra freshness. Gremolata can be served with a range of meat and fish dishes and is so quick and easy to make so do give it a try.

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Ingredients-serves 4
For the ragu
Vegetable oil
500g wild boar- diced into large chunks
1 large white onion -chopped
2 garlic cloves- crushed
Small pack of pancetta
1 carrot- finely chopped
2 celery sticks- finely chopped
1 tbsp tomato puree
100ml red wine
400g tinned chopped tomatoes
300ml beef stock
Fresh rosemary and bay leaves

For the polenta 
200g polenta
30g butter
30g freshly grated parmesan

For the gremolata (optional)
Handful fresh flatleaf parsley- finely chopped
1 garlic clove- finely chopped
Zest of a small lemon
Squeeze of lemon juice
Glug of olive oil

1. Get cracking by preheating the oven to 160c/ 140 fan. Take a large casserole pan and heat a good glug of oil over a medium to high heat. Add the chunks of boar and cook to brown them off. You could do this in a couple of batches if needed so you don’t overcrowd the pan and start to boil the meat. When browned, remove the boat and set aside.

2. Next up keep the meat juices in the pan and cook the garlic, onion and pancetta until the onion is softened and the pancetta is turning golden. Pop in the carrot and celery and cook for a further couple of minutes. Stir through the tomato puree and make sure it is all well combined.

3. Add the red wine and reduce by half before the stock and tomatoes go in. So in the herbs and season. Cook in the oven for 3 hours until the boar is tender and simply falls apart. Whilst the ragu is coming you can also make the gremolata if you’re using this by mixing all the ingredients together and cooking in the fridge until you need it.

4. When you’re ready to serve, start off the polenta. Cook it according to packet instructions as it can vary slightly. At the end of cooking take the pan off the heat and stir through the butter and parmesan. Taste and check the seasoning and tweak according to taste. Serve the unctuous ragu on a bed of polent and a small amount of the gremolata on top.

Wild boar ragu with parmesan polenta and a gremolata topping- rich, fresh and oh so satisfying!

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Mixed mushroom and ruby chard ragout with creamy polenta

This time of year is perfect to celebrate the mushroom. Love it or hate it, there are so many varieties to try and choose from to embrace the earthy delight before the wild mushroom season is over for another year! To make this recipe fully vegetarian then you can substitute the cheeses with vegetarian alternatives or leave them out if you prefer.

Remember that a mushroom is a delicate thing so be gentle when cleaning them; simply wipe any dirt using a piece of kitchen roll. I have used field, chestnut and porcini mushrooms here but get creative and try different mixes.

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Ingredients- serves 2
For the ragout:
Handful of dried porcini mushrooms- rehydrated
15g unsalted butter
1 shallot- finely sliced
1 garlic clove- crushed
3 sprigs of thyme
250g field mushrooms
100g chestnut mushrooms
60ml red wine
60ml vegetable stock
5-6 stems of chard- stems separated from the leaves and halved
50g Taleggio cheese or similar- optional

For the polenta:
1 bay leaf
1 sprig of thyme
125g instant polenta
25g butter
40g parmesan

1. Before you start soak the porcini mushrooms to rehydrate them and drain well and squeeze out any excess water. Keep hold of the liquid for – never throw this away, it has so much flavour. Heat the butter in a pan over a medium heat and cook the shallot until softened. Next pop in the garlic and thyme leaves and cook for a further minute.

2. Increase the heat and add the mushrooms and fry rapidly to remove the water from them; cook until soft. Add  the wine and bring to the boil for a minute before the stock goes in along with the porcini liquid. Simmer for 10-15 minutes until the mushroom mix has thickened. A few minutes from the end add the chard to cook in the mushroom mix. Alternatively you could lightly steam the chard separately and then add in. Turn off the heat and leave to stand.

3. For the polenta choose an instant variety. Boil in a pan along with 250ml of water plus the thyme and bay according to the packet time. When ready remove the sprigs then pop in the butter and parmesan until smooth and creamy. Add a little more butter if needed.

5. When the polenta is ready, serve into bowls and create a crater in the middle of each bowlful into which you can spoon the mushroom ragout. Pop the Taleggio (or similar) slices or chunks on top and melt under the grill until oozing if you like but it is also great without cheese too. Alternatively you could stir the cheese through the warmed ragout if you prefer.

Mushroom ragout- a seasonal celebration of the humble ‘shroom!