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Chef Thomas Keller’s Creamy Polenta with Mushroom Conserva Recipe

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Nov 8, 2020 • 1 min read

Chef Keller’s favorite time of year to cook is winter, when his thoughts turn to comforting braised dishes. This recipe for a perfectly soft polenta with rich mushroom conserva is a savory side dish that pairs well with Chef Keller’s Red Wine Braised Short Ribs.



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What Is Polenta?

Polenta is an Italian invention made of ground cornmeal, either yellow cornmeal or white, that serves as a versatile side dish.

Creamy Polenta and Mushroom Conserva Presentation

To serve, spoon polenta into your serving dish and garnish with freshly cracked black pepper, sel gris, and chives. Serve the mushroom conserva alongside.

Chef Thomas Keller’s Recipe for Creamy Polenta With Mushroom Conserva


Creamy Polenta Recipe and Ingredients

  • 700 grams chicken stock or vegetable stock
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 10 grams kosher salt
  • 300 grams polenta , Moretti brand
  • 300 grams whole milk
  • 150 grams unsalted butter, cubed
  • Extra virgin olive oil, to finish


  • Whisk
  • Saucepot

Mushroom Conserva Recipe and Ingredients

  • 1 kilogram assorted fresh mushrooms of your choice
  • Extra virgin olive oil, enough to cover mushrooms in the pot
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 thyme sprigs
  • 1 rosemary sprig
  • ½ gram Piment d’Espelette (or chile flakes)
  • 45 grams sherry vinegar
  • 10 grams kosher salt


  • Heavy pot
  • Whisk
  • Rubber spatula
  • Glass jar with lid, for storage
Method for Creamy Polenta
  1. Combine the stock, garlic, and kosher salt in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Pour in the polenta in a stream and cook over low heat, whisking often, for 17 to 20 minutes, until the polenta is quite dry and coats the bottom of the pan. The moisture must evaporate, because it will be replaced with fat; otherwise, the texture could be gummy.
  2. Meanwhile, warm the milk in a small saucepan. Increase the heat under the polenta to medium and stir in butter.
  3. Add the milk about one quarter at a time, letting the polenta absorb it each time before adding more. Season to taste with kosher salt if needed. Adjust butter as needed.
Method for Mushroom Conserva
  1. Clean the mushrooms and cut them into bite-sized pieces. Combine the olive oil, herbs, and chile flakes.
  2. Heat the oil to 170°F, add the mushrooms and stir. Bring the temperature back to 170°F. Cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in the vinegar and salt. Allow to steep for 45 minutes. Transfer to clean covered storage container. Store in the fridge for up to 1 week.