Mushrooms with polenta
Anything with a strong flavour and a soft texture is good with polenta. I love polenta with braised chicory and it’s wonderful with mushrooms. You can use a real mix of mushrooms for this, the more varieties the better.
- 140g quick-cook polenta
- 50g butter
- 75g grated Parmesan cheese, plus a bit extra for scattering
- Plenty of salt and black pepper
- Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
For the sauce
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 10-12 large flat field or mixed mushrooms, sliced
- 1 glass of white wine
- Juice and grated zest of 1 lemon
- ⅓ of a nutmeg, freshly grated
- 250ml crème fraîche (optional)
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley or 1 tablespoon finely chopped thyme
- Parmesan cheese, grated
To cook the polenta, bring 1.5 litres of salted water to the boil and then remove from the heat while you whisk in the polenta. Keep whisking hard until the mixture is quite smooth and then put the pan back on the heat. It will start to bubble furiously, (you may want to wrap your hand in a tea-towel) but keep stirring and turn the heat down.
Cook the polenta for a few minutes, until it becomes thick and creamy. Add the butter and Parmesan, and season well. This dish really does benefit from plenty of salt and pepper.
You can serve the polenta like this, or make it into a sort of flat cake, with the extra flavour from the griddle. I love both. To griddle or fry the polenta, turn it out on a large shallow plate or dish (ideally, the depth of the polenta should be about 1.5cm) and allow it to cool completely while you cook the mushrooms.
For the mushrooms, gently fry the onion in the olive oil for 10 minutes and then add the garlic and mushrooms. Just stir enough to combine everything, as you don’t want to knock mushrooms about too much. Add the white wine, lemon juice and zest, and then nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste. Continue to cook for 10 minutes.
Pour in the crème fraîche (if using) and three-quarters of the parsley, and just heat through without boiling.
When the polenta is cold, cut it into triangles or fish-finger-sized slices ready for cooking.
Make sure the griddle is really hot and put the wedges of polenta on to char-grill them for about 5 minutes on either side. For a richer option, fry the slices in butter or olive oil.
To serve, make sure the mushrooms are piping hot and put a slice of polenta and a good dollop of sauce on each plate. Drizzle with a little olive oil and scatter over the parsley and grated Parmesan.
Meanwhile, reheat the mushrooms gently, spoon on top of the polenta and scatter the rest of the parsley and Parmesan on top