Polenta with Smoky Mushroom Ragout

Morita chiles are red, fully mature Chipotles. This gives them a unique, medium – hot smokey flavor which is popular in many Southwestern dishes. These can be added to sauces (including Mole) to add smokey flavor and maintain the red color of the sauces. These peppers are about 2-4 inches in length, 1 inch in width, and have a deep brick reddish brown color. The word Chipotle translated to smoked chile. Consider the Chipotle a 6.5 on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the hottest). Scoville heat units 7,000-25,000.

Suggested Use:
Use Morita in enchilada sauces, chili, stews, barbecue ribs, and corn bread. Their smoky quality combines well with poultry, meats and fall squash.

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6 cups water
1-1/2 cups dry polenta
1 Tbsp. butter, cut into small pieces
1-1/2 tsp. salt


1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cups chopped onion
8 cups sliced oyster mushroom caps (about 1-1/2 pounds)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup Cotes du Rhone or other fruity red wine
1 Tbsp. chopped, drained canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
1 tsp. dried oregano
3 garlic cloves, minced
one (28 oz.) can whole tomatoes, drained and chopped
2 cups (8 oz.) crumbled queso fresco cheese
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro


Preheat oven to 350F.

To prepare polenta:

Combine the first 4 ingredients in a 13″ x 9″ baking dish and stir well. Bake at 350F for 1 hour or until the liquid has been absorbed. Cover the polenta and keep warm.

To prepare ragout:

While the polenta bakes, heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add the onion, Saute for 5 minutes or until the onion is tender. Add the mushrooms and 1/2 tsp. of salt. Cook for 10 minutes or until the mushrooms release their moisture and begin to brown. Stir occasionally, the gradually add the wine, chiles, oregano and garlic. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for a minute or until the liquid evaporates. Stir constantly, thern add the tomatoes, and cook over low heat for 15 minutes or until the mixture thickens slightly.

Spoon the ragout over the polenta and sprinkle the topped polenta evenly with cheese. Bake at 350F for 15 minutes or until the cheese begins to melt. Sprinkle with fresh chopped cilantro.

Yields 8 servings.

Recipe from the April 2004 issue of Cooking Light magazine.