Recipe: Grilled Polenta and Mushrooms

Once again I got really excited about making this recipe, one of my favorites, and didn’t bother to read the recipe Jeremy had put together until afterwards. Of course he fancied it up so my photos don’t look like what you’d get if you follow this recipe. Oh well, it just shows the diversity of ways you can use mushrooms, right??

The “un-fancy” way to make this is just to cook the mushrooms and some garlic and put that over the grilled polenta, with a little Parmesan. Simple!

Grilled Polenta and Mushrooms

Serves 4
1-1 1/2 Tbsp. coarse salt
1 2/3 cups polenta or course cornmeal
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
6-8 oz. shiitake or other mushrooms
2 slices bacon
more olive oil as needed
1 small onion, diced
2 to 4 Tbsp white wine or stock for deglazing
pepper to taste
about 1/2 a cup of cream
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 Tbsp Parmesan cheese
Polenta
Put salt into 7 cups cold water in a medium heavy pot. Add polenta and whisk in. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring often. Add olive oil, then reduce heat to medium and continue cooking, stirring often with a wooden spoon until polenta thickens and pulls away slightly from bottom and sides of pot, or between 20-40 minutes – depending on grind.

Pour into a wet ceramic or glass mold, cool, turn out, and cut into pieces with a wet knife. Grill on a very hot, dry grill or sear in a nonstick skillet until golden brown.

Shiitake mushrooms and sauce
Fry up bacon until crisp. Remove from pan and drain most but not all of the fat from the pan; reserve the fat you drain off. Cut bacon into small pieces. Saute onion until tender. Deglaze the pan with whatever liquid you choose and then let the liquid reduce till thickened; set onion sauce aside in another dish.

Remove mushroom stems. If the mushrooms are small you can leave them whole or cut into halves; if they are larger you can slice them up.  With the pan on medium, add the reserved bacon fat and mushrooms. You want each mushroom to have contact with the pan, so cook in batches if necessary. If the pan gets dry add olive oil. Cook mushrooms two to three minutes, then stir. Saute another couple of minutes, or until soft.

Add the onion sauce to the sauteed mushrooms. Add pepper to taste, cream, garlic, bacon and cheese. Heat through thoroughly. Serve over polenta.

Variation: marinate the Shiitake for a few hours in oil, a little vinegar or white wine, salt and pepper then grill them. Chop half of the grilled mushrooms and combine with other sauce ingredients, then top polenta and remaining mushrooms with sauce.

Mushroom sauce recipe adapted from ReTorte food blog. Polenta recipe reproduced from Saveur Magazine.

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