Creamy Polenta with Beef Ragù Recipe

Difficulty: Medium | Total Time: 95 minutes | Active Time: | Makes: 4 servings

Polenta with beef ragù is a hearty meal that will satiate anyone’s appetite as well as offer a pleasant alternative to eating pasta. Polenta is as old as the Roman ruins; It actually originated in Ancient Rome and was cooked from farro (similar to barley). Today, polenta is commonly made from yellow or white ground cornmeal. As a result of its humble ingredients, polenta is still classified as a peasant dish in Italy. However, do not let this fool you — whether you add butter or Caciocavallo Podolico (one of the world’s most expensive cheeses), polenta can be as unassuming or as decadent as you want it to be. Polenta also has the stigma of being a food that requires your entire Saturday to cook. This is not necessarily true; this creamy concoction takes all of 15 minutes to whip up. Polenta can be eaten by itself as an appetizer or as a first course. However, I like to serve my polenta with a pile of heaping beef ragù on top.

Beef ragù is merely meat sauce. There are numerous variations on how to prepare ragù. One of my favorite ragu’s, a popular Tuscan variety, is made with wild boar. Wild boars are used primarily to dig up wild truffles in Northern Italy. However, boars are pigs and thus, many hunters have found that the boars are not only notorious for unearthing the truffles, but for eating them as well. As a result, many Italian truffle hunters have opted to training dogs to harvest the truffles instead. While wild boars are running rampant in the Tuscan hillside, they are not in the DC metro area. For this reason, I’ve always made my ragù with... read more

  • 6 cups water
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 cup parmigiano cheese plus more for sprinkling
  • 2 tbsp truffle oil (optional)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp dried sage
  • 1 1/5 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  1. Bring the water to a boil. Add the salt and gradually whisk in the cornmeal.
  2. Reduce the heat to low and cook stirring often about 15 minutes or until the polenta becomes thick. Remove from the heat.
  3. Stir in the butter, cheese, basil, and truffle oil. Set aside and keep warm.
  4. In a saucepan over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the onion, carrots, and garlic, and saute until softened about 10 minutes.
  5. Add the sage and beef, breaking up the beef with a wooden spoon. Raise the heat to high and cook until meat is browned about 5 minutes.
  6. Season with salt and pepper. Add the wine and cook until liquid has evaporated about 3 minutes.
  7. Stir in 1.5 cup cold water and the bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, partially cover, and simmer for about 30 minutes.
  8. Season again with salt and pepper. Stir in the tomatoes and simmer on low partially covered for another 30 minutes.
  9. Season again if needed. Serve ragù over the polenta and sprinkle with parmigiano cheese.
  10. For more recipes, check out

Member recipes are not tested by the CHOW food team.