Make Ahead

Butternut Squash Ragu with Smoky Bacon & Green Onion Polenta

October 22, 2010
4 Ratings
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

Just because. —thirschfeld

What You'll Need
  • For the ragu:
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes, 2 1/2 to 3 cups
  • 1 onion, peeled and minced, about a cup
  • 1 carrot, peeled and cut into small dice, about a 1/2 cup
  • 2 celery stalks, small dice about a 1/2 cup
  • 1/2 cup leek, white parts only and cut into small dice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh garlic, minced
  • 6 sage leaves, minced
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup pecorino romano cheese, finely grated
  • kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
  • fresh ground nutmeg
  • slivered toasted almonds
  • For the polenta
  • 2 cups stone ground organic cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon fresh garlic, minced
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups applewood smoked bacon, 1/4 inch dice
  • 1/2 cup minced green onions
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup pecorino romano, finely grated
  • kosher salt and fresh ground white pepper
  1. To make the polenta: Place a 3 1/2 quart enameled Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the bacon. Render the fat from the bacon and cook it until it begins to crisp. Add the garlic. Once it becomes fragrant add the water.
  2. Bring the water to a boil and add the polenta while stirring. Make sure you stir. This prevents any lumps. Season it with a teaspoon of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Bring it to a boil. Move the polenta to a back burner turned to low heat.
  3. For the ragu: Heat a 12 inch saute pan over medium high heat. Add the butter. Swirl it around to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the butternut squash.
  4. Stir the polenta.
  5. Once the squash begins to brown add the onion, celery, carrot and leek. Season with salt and white pepper.
  6. Stir the polenta. Add a 1/4 cup of water if it seems to dry and is sticking. Then stir.
  7. Once the vegetables begin to wilt add the garlic and sage. Once it is fragrant add the stock. Let it reduce au sec. Then add the cream and a grating or two of nutmeg.
  8. Stir the polenta.
  9. Reduce the cream to a half cup. Add the cheese to the ragu and taste. Adjust the seasoning as necessary. Cook until the squash is tender. Maybe another 5 to 10 minutes.
  10. Remove a taste of the polenta. Blow on it before you taste it. Is it tender enough for you liking. Some like it al dente others want it creamy smooth. If you need to cook it longer do so but reduce the heat under the ragu to low.
  11. When the polenta is ready add the butter, cheese and green onions. Stir until the butter and cheese are melted.
  12. Taste the polenta and the ragu and adjust the seasoning. Correct it as necessary.
  13. Place the polenta into bowls or onto a large platter and top with the ragu, then more cheese and the almonds.
Contest Entries

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Tina Heaney
    Tina Heaney
  • marynn
  • Sagegreen
  • cheese1227
  • AntoniaJames

12 Reviews

Tina H. January 6, 2020
OMG!!! This is so, so, so good!
marynn October 25, 2011
Lemme see: Cheese? Yes! Polenta? Yes! Green onions, bacon, leeks? Yes, yes and yes! And there is garlic--non-negotiable.

I saved the poaching cream from the potato and fennel gratin. It will sneak in here. It is Sunday Night football consolation dinner (MN Vikings) with a gorgeous Kabocha squash. *happy sigh*

Sage to garnish?
Sagegreen October 25, 2010
Love your green polenta, and of course the whole package! Can't wait to see what else you might trot out this week!!! We could so happily eat our way through the whole week and forego the day job altogether: So many recipes.
thirschfeld October 25, 2010
thank you Sagegreen
cheese1227 October 24, 2010
Why pecorino? Is there some affinity between the squash and the sheep's milk?
thirschfeld October 25, 2010
Funny you ask, it was what I had.
AntoniaJames October 24, 2010
I really like your recipe for such a deeply-flavored, savory polenta. I've been using my rich chicken stock (roasted backs, roasted with a good piece of ham shank . .. or other ham bone + a piece of prosciutto or Black Forest ham . . . something to get the bone and the cured meat flavor into the stock) a lot as the weather cools, when making polenta. It's such a nice change from the more usual method of relying just on of butter and cheese, to give the polenta more character. I'm going to make the polenta half of this recipe mid-week. And I'm really looking forward to it! ;o)
thirschfeld October 25, 2010
Thanks as always AJ. I hope like it.
JoanG October 24, 2010
What a great combination!
thirschfeld October 25, 2010
Thank you JoanG
mrslarkin October 22, 2010
You said it perfectly, thirschfeld. What's for dessert?
thirschfeld October 25, 2010
store bought ginger snaps.