Sunday, February 12, 2012

Creamy Polenta With Sauteed Mushrooms

Ok, I know I was supposed to work on part two of my travel post, but things have changed.  I've got other priorities right now.  Like making this creamy polenta with mushrooms. 

I like to think that I make my polenta the way the Italian grandmothers do.  Minimal ingredients.  I don't think they'd like it if I fuss around with it too much. 

The toppings for polenta are endless.  I particularly like sauteed mushrooms.  If you can get a variety of them, you've hit the jackpot.  I used a mix of button and oyster mushrooms.
The ivory colored oyster mushrooms looked so delicate with its ruffle that reminded me of the hem of a wedding dress.  Of course I had to get them.
Left over polenta can get rolled between two sheets of parchment (before it completely cools) and left to cool until it's firm enough to cut.  Cut into desired shapes, and pan fry in a generous amount of olive oil until golden and crispy.  Polenta fries anyone?

Creamy Polenta With Sauteed Mushrooms
(Serves two)

The recipe for this polenta is for a medium thickness.  If you like yours runnier, just add more water or milk at the end.  Polenta likes to blurp and bubble away like hot lava.  You might want to cook it with the lid on, slightly ajar.

Creamy Polenta
1 litre of vegetable/ chicken stock
1 1/2 cups whole milk
few sprigs of thyme
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 cup coarse cornmeal
1/2 cup grated parmesan

Sauteed Mushrooms
1 lb mixed mushrooms, cleaned and sliced thick
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
zest of half a lemon
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup of finely minced onion or shallot
salt and pepper

In a deep pot, bring the stock, thyme, and garlic clove to a simmer.  Simmer for 5 minutes to infuse the aromatics, and take the thyme and garlic out.  Take out about 1/3 of a cup of the stock and set aside.  Add the milk, and slowly sprinkle the cornmeal in while stirring with a wooden spoon.

Cook the polenta on low heat and simmer, stirring occassionally until cooked.  Mine took about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a large saute pan on medium high heat.  Add the olive oil and heat until almost smoking.  Saute the mushrooms until golden brown.  If your heat was hot enough to start, there shouldn't be any water coming out from the mushrooms.

Add the butter, zest, lemon juice, garlic, thyme, and onion.  Saute everything for a few more minutes and add the reserved stock.  Turn off the heat.

When the cornmeal is done, add the parmesan, and season well with salt.  Spoon into big bowls and top with the sauteed mushrooms.  Finish with more parmesan.

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