Polenta with Wild Mushrooms

So as I am sure you know we had a huge blizzard here in NYC. Personally I love a blizzard. I know it has caused so many problems for so many people, but as the average guy in the city, it doesn't really affect me much. Plus, as luck would have it, I was off from work the past 2 days and didn't need to go anywhere. P2 and I did do a little shopping, and also went out to play in the snow with our friends Andreas and Paulo. Other than that, it was nothing but food, sweat pants and Wii for us.
When thinking about food on days like these there are some pretty strict guide lines that need to be followed in order to reduce the risks of hunger and running out of food.
The rules are pretty easy.
1. Hot food
2. Heavy food
3. Cook a lot of food
Easy peesy as the Fat Ladies say! Right?
Now there was a good amount of cooking happening over the past 2 days by both P2 and myself. I think P2's favorite was a creamy spicy chicken soup I made. Mine however was the Polenta I made last night.
Since I bought the cornmeal for the fried calamari the other day I have been wanting to try to make polenta because I have never done it before. 
I have heard it was a little complicated, but figured how hard could it be?
Before last night I had only seen it made on TV, so I went online to check out how it's done. I had no idea it was so labor intensive. I was thinking it must be like risotto, but no. It's a lot more work than that!
I was told this morning via facebook by a friend "don't stop stirring". I found that out real quick last night!
But is it worth it??? Hell yeah!!!
This recipe is typical of my recipes.. vague.. You will have to see how it goes. You may need extra liquid, and it may take extra time. It seems to me like it takes as much liquid at it wants, and it is done when it's done. The polenta is running this show!

You need;
2 cups polenta
2 cups water
4 cups chicken stock
1 big spoonful of mascarpone
Salt and Pepper.
Grated cheese (I used Romano)
I also topped mine with a mixture of sauteed mushrooms. I chose Crimini and Shitake.
I would start off by doing the mushrooms. I tried to do it all at the same time, and although it came out great, the polenta needs too much attention, so I recommend sauteing the mushrooms and getting that out of the way first.
Very easily I minced a few cloves of garlic, added the mushrooms, salt, pepper, a tiny bit of truffle oil (because I love my husband - I hate truffle!), let them cook down and then added a small handful of chopped flat leaf parsley at the end.
For the polenta, you want to start of by adding the polenta to the water. Do not heat the water. Stir it around and let it sit. At the same time you want to heat your chicken stock to a simmer. Once the stock is simmering add the polenta water mixture.
Now when I did this step it got super thick super fast. I added about a cup of water (I was out of stock). You may need more or less. Or, you may not need any extra at all.
Now stir.. Stir stir stir stir stir. For like 30 to 40 minutes!

After about 20 minutes I added the mascarpone, the Romano, and the salt and pepper. I found I needed a lot of salt. Maybe it was just me, but if you feel like you are adding a lot, so did I!
That is all there is to it really. Seems like a lot to do, but the only real work is all the stirring.
You are done once the polenta is nice and soft and creamy!
I plated it, and then added some of the mushrooms on top. I am sure you can add the mushrooms into the polenta, but I like them on top. I had it like that at Barbuto, and thought it was perfect that way.

It was SO good and so worth the work.
Other than the stirring, it is easy, and it seems to me like it is hard to actually mess up.
I am thinking this is a really great way to start a dinner you are making for someone you want to impress! A little sprinkle of Romano and a bit of parsley on top, and they will swear they are in Tuscany! :)

Try it out and let me know what you think. It really is perfect snowy day, stick to your ribs kinda food!



jessie riley said…
Polenta is my favorite, being that it's really the same a southern-loved grits...you have to salt the water first. Then you won't need to use as much later. It's such a cozy winter snack.

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