Mascarpone Polenta with Brown Butter Mushrooms


A topping of brown butter mushrooms and a fried egg transform mascarpone-enriched polenta into a comforting vegetarian main course.

Mascarpone Polenta with Brown Butter Mushrooms and Fried Egg

Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Christine Keely

Total Time:
1 hrs 5 mins

Polenta is enriched with mascarpone cheese in this recipe to give it a slightly tangy bite and velvety texture. For the mushroom topping, chanterelle and oyster mushrooms are sautéed in nutty brown butter and finished with lightly sweet and spiced apple butter. A sprinkling of fresh herbs and a fried egg completes the dish. Choose a light-colored nonstick skillet when browning the butter, if you have one; it will provide a clear view as the butter deepens in color and help avoid it browning too far.


  • 5 cups water

  • 1 cup cold unsalted butter (8 ounces), divided

  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed

  • 4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided, plus more to taste

  • 1 teaspoon black pepper,  divided, plus more to taste

  • 1 cup uncooked coarse-ground polenta (such as Moretti)

  • 1/3 cup mascarpone cheese (from 1 [8-ounce] container)

  • 2 pounds mixed fresh wild mushrooms (such as oyster and chanterelle), torn into 1 1/2-inch pieces

  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

  • 3 tablespoons apple butter

  • 4 large eggs

  • 1/4 cup chopped mixed fresh herbs (such as chives, flat-leaf parsley, and tarragon), plus more for garnish


  1. Preheat oven to 450°F with racks in middle and bottom third of oven.

  2. Bring 5 cups water, 1/4 cup butter, garlic, 2 1/4 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high. Remove and discard garlic. Reduce heat to low to maintain a gentle simmer. Whisking constantly, gradually add polenta in a slow stream. Return to a gentle simmer over low, stirring often. Cook, stirring and scraping bottom of saucepan often using a wooden spoon, until polenta is tender and creamy, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in mascarpone cheese; season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and keep warm.

  3. Meanwhile, toss together mushrooms, 1/4 cup oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl. Divide mushrooms between 2 large rimmed baking sheets, and spread evenly. Roast in preheated oven until mushrooms are crisp in spots and tender, about 25 minutes, rotating baking sheets between top and bottom racks and stirring halfway through roasting time.

  4. Melt remaining 3/4 cup butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high, about 2 minutes. Continue to cook, stirring often, until milk solids turn brown and smell nutty, about 2 minutes. Carefully scrape butter into a medium-size heatproof bowl. Set aside 1/3 cup brown butter. Whisk apple butter and remaining 1 1/4 teaspoons salt into remaining brown butter in medium bowl.

  5. Wipe skillet clean. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in skillet over medium-high until shimmering. Crack eggs into skillet; season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook until whites are set and yolks are still runny, spooning hot oil over any egg whites that remain translucent, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

  6. Divide polenta evenly among 4 bowls. Add mushrooms and herbs to apple butter mixture in bowl; toss to combine. Top polenta evenly with mushroom mixture and fried eggs; drizzle evenly with reserved brown butter. Garnish with additional herbs. Serve immediately.

Suggested pairing

Gabriele Davogustto, wine director at Clay in New York City, who provided the inspiration for this recipe, recommends 2021 César Márquez La Salvación Godello to pour with it. “Salvación Godello is a perfect pairing for this dish; it’s long and mineral with a bright acidity and saltiness that cuts through the eggs and a round, creamy texture that complements the weight of the mushrooms and polenta. The 2021 was one of the freshest vintages in Bierzo; this bottle is one of the most elegant and mineral yet.”

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