A man goes to the doctor with a carrot in one ear, a stick of celery in the other and a mushroom up his nose. “Doctor,” he says, “I’m in terrible shape. What can I do?” And the doctor says, “You need to start eating more sensibly.” (Not sure of the source, but it’s one of my favorite mushroom jokes!)
Today’s recipe highlights mushrooms, but if you’re not a fan, don’t fret! You can pair anything you like with the polenta cakes in this recipe, so please keep reading. . .
Grilled Polenta with Balsamic Mushrooms
- 2 c. Low sodium chicken stock
- 2 c. Whole milk
- 1 Bay leaf
- 1 c. Yellow cornmeal (fine or medium)
- 1/2 c. Parmesan cheese, grated
- 2 Tb. Unsalted butter
- 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp. Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 Lb. Mushrooms (Cremini, Button, Porcini, etc.), sliced
- 5 Tb. Unsalted butter (reserve 2-3 Tb. for finishing)
- 1 Tb. Olive oil
- 3-4 sprigs Fresh thyme
- 1-2 sprigs Fresh rosemary
- 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 cloves Garlic, minced or pressed
- 1/2 c. Balsamic vinegar
- Fresh chives or parsley, chopped (to serve)
- Lightly grease an 8X8 baking dish with olive oil or butter.
- In a large saucepan, combine chicken stock, milk and bay leaf. Bring to gentle boil, then cover, remove from heat and allow to sit for 10-15 minutes.
- Remove bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium and slowly sprinkle in cornmeal, vigorously whisking in each portion until well-combined. Cook over low heat about 5 minutes, stirring with a wood spoon or heat-proof spatula, until it's smooth. Remove from heat and stir in butter, cheese, salt and pepper.
- Pour polenta into the baking dish and let it sit at room temperature, uncovered, ~1 hour, until it firms up. (If planning to use later, place in the refrigerator after it cools).
- When ready to prepare, cut the polenta into squares. Heat a non-stick pan over medium/high heat, along with a little butter and olive oil. Place polenta in pan and reduce heat to medium. Cook until first side is nicely browned, then flip and cook until it's also brown to your liking. Serve immediately with Balsamic mushrooms.
- While polenta cools, clean and slice the mushrooms.
- Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add 1 Tb. olive oil and 2 Tb. butter, along with sprigs of thyme and rosemary. Add sliced mushrooms and stir to combine.
- When the mushrooms start to release their liquid (~2-3 minutes), add salt, pepper and garlic. Cook ~2 minutes, then add vinegar. Cook over low heat another 2-3 minutes to reduce some liquid then add in reserved butter. Taste for seasoning; serve with seared polenta and top with chopped chives/parsley.